How to buy wine when you don’t speak wine

Buying wine has always been a horrible experience for me. Either I find myself in a store where the staff know nothing about the wine they’re selling, or I’m left anxiety-riddled as I try and communicate what I want to an expert who’s steeped in the arcane vocabulary of wine.

The situation with the expert has always been the worst. I hate it. If by a stroke of luck I manage to use the right vocabulary, it often turns out that I use it wrong. Or pronounce it wrong. Or both.

At best, this language problem leads to a small misunderstanding. More commonly, the result is a resounding recommendation for a wine completely unsuited to my palate. Occasionally, I leave feeling humiliated after the seller has corrected my pronunciation or usage of a word, while barely hiding their contempt

I have tried to learn!

In recent months, now that I’ve had a bit more time at home thanks to coronavirus, I have made an effort to learn some wine vocab. At first, it was an exciting venture

I thought it would be like learning another language, but so much more useful. After all, I drink wine several times a week. Even if I could visit Paris as often as I wanted to, wine drinking would still be a much more frequent activity. And besides, so many of the words used in wine are French, so I’m doing both at the same time!

It’s so much more than words!

When I first set off on my little vocabulary learning adventure, I didn’t realise how much was hiding beneath the surface. For every wine word, there’s so much to learn before fully understanding it.

I quickly realized that being a fan of wine was similar to being a fan of music in some ways… It’s like getting to know a band.

Simply knowing their name isn’t enough. You need to know the members names, the themes in their songs, etc. But you need to do so in depth. Simply knowing that Chrissy Amphlett sang the words “when I think about you I touch myself” doesn’t really help you understand the Divinyls. What do they even sound like huh?

You’re speaking French!

It’s the same with wine. Simply knowing that the combination of the soil, the location and climate of a vineyard are what “terroir” talks about doesn’t do much. How do you use it in a wine shop? Can you ask for a wine with a nice “terroir?”

And how do you understand its impact on a wine’s taste? When I read that the redolent palate and strong acid backbone are a pure expression of a vineyard’s terroir, I still have no idea how the wine is going to taste.

The same happens in reverse. What if I read that a vineyard is perched on the western slope of a seaside hill which experiences long but mild summers and has clay soil? I know that this is the vineyard’s “terroir,” but I still have no idea what this means for the wine’s taste!

There must be a better way!

My little deep dive into the world of wine vocabulary was fun, but I knew it wasn’t practical for a mere mortal like me! There was just too much to learn. And besides, why does drinking wine have to be so serious?

Fortunately, I had a friend who invited me around for a little wine tasting recently and they turned me on to something amazingly cool! A wine app that works just like Spotify does with music! It learns to predict what you like based on your previous listening… or, in this case, drinking

Palate Club is so simple and it just works!

I was most impressed by the complete lack of winey words needed. I didn’t need to tell the Palate Club wine tasting app about my preferences for acid, tannin or anything. I simply drink wines and rate them based on how much I like them. Then, using my preferences, their super intelligent algorithm matches the qualities of the wines I’ve liked with those of other wines I know nothing about.

It works just like Spotify. If I listen to a lot of Australian rock music from the 80s with female lead singers, it will suggest to me other bands just like this. And this is perfect for me! I don’t need to waste time and money on wines I might not like. This is tied in with a ridiculously convenient wine delivery service, so I don’t need to go into a wine store and deal with potentially difficult staff. I just open up the app and it deals with the hassle for me. Simple!