Don't Know Wine? Learn Online!
There are plenty of online sources to help you drink up wine knowledge
People say if you want to learn about wine, drink it. That's one way, but just opening a bottle and sipping won't necessarily tell you much about what you're drinking. Yes, you can get an idea of the taste, the style and whether you like it. To get more detailed information you could take a course, but as a restaurant owner or bar manager, how much free time do you have to really sit in class? Luckily there are plenty of online resources you can use to increase your wine knowledge. Even better — you can pop open a bottle of wine to drink while you study. Think of it as hands-on research.
The popular Dummies books collection — where you can learn how to do, well, anything — has a series of wine books with much of that content online. From learning how to read wine labels and knowing what grapes are in French wines to understanding the difference in Italian varietals to learning how to pair wine and food, Dummies.com is an excellent source. The online content is generally free and you can also explore other food and beverage categories including spirits, beer and even bartending.
The highly regarded Wine Spectator magazine has a breadth of information on its website. You could easily spend hours poring over the reviews section. With nearly 350,000 ratings, it's one of the largest collections of wine reviews anywhere. Pop by the site each day to read a daily wine pick, categorized by price or browse the vintage charts, dating back to 1961. But if you’re looking for the basics, Wine Spectator's aptly named "Learn Wine" section can't be beat. It has maps of major wine regions, quizzes, a glossary of wine terms and more. Note that while some sections on the site are free, others are open only to paying members.
One of the most popular wine destinations, Wine Enthusiast has a variety of wine-related articles, recipes, cocktail information and more. It publishes an annual list of the top 100 wines each year as well as the best 100 wine restaurants. And its section on Wine Basics couldn't be more straightforward. Want to know more than you thought you did about Zinfandel? Done. Need information about wines from Alsace? That's there, too. There's even an article titled "Wine For Beginners" that lays everything out in simple, easy-to-swallow terms so you can walk away feeling a little bit smarter than when you started.
Whether you want to check out an interactive map of Barolo in Italy or read in-depth articles of wine regions around the world, it's on Vinous. Its "Tools" section offers a vintage chart, wine glossary and guide to grapes. Unfortunately, you need to subscribe once you go through a preview of about 10 pages on the site. But if you want comprehensive knowledge from a respected group of wine writers, it's worth the fee, starting at $7.99 a month for the mobile site and going up to $120 a year for access to the majority of the content.
Snooth, which requires a free registration, regularly publishes interesting articles on new happenings in wine regions, specific wine reviews, trends and more. The site offers a five-glass rating system to help you navigate through wines, includes winemaker notes and links to various online shops to purchase the wines. It has comprehensive grape descriptions and has a forum where you can interact with other users.
Created as a place where people could keep track of their wine cellar inventory online, CellarTracker has grown into the largest online community of wine enthusiasts who post millions of tasting notes while tracking more than 60 million bottles. If you're looking to compare different vintages of a specific wine, CellarTracker's users don't mince words on how they feel. This peer-driven site offers an honest take on wines at all price points and regions from around the world.
Led by regular guy Joe Roberts, who is a certified specialist of wine, 1 Wine Dude is great for getting down-and-dirty wine reviews. Roberts offers Twitter-like mini reviews each week on wines he tastes and includes a grade rating. The writing is fun, pithy, smart and informative, all in less than 140 characters. If you're looking for more in-depth wine knowledge about different regions and industry trends, you will find that here as well.