During the holidays, one of the gift ideas I strongly recommended was a wine aroma kit. The basic premise is that it isolates the scents found in wine so that a mortal can tell the difference between hazelnut and almond by scent (rather than by candy bar wrapper).
If you can’t afford a wine aroma kit, there is a free alternative: faking it. Writer & Culinary Student, Sophie Brickman, published a clever primer for those looking to talk a big game about their palate without actually knowing the first thing about wine tasting.
Having spent a fair amount of time in St. Helena with friends who grew up in the wine industry, I can sympathize. You want to sound educated. And you don’t want your opinion shot down by a real expert (or purported expert). Perhaps every year, one of my new year’s resolutions will be to come up with a new, default comment about a wine I can’t say anything about. For 2009, if you hear me say: "the nose reminds me of clam digging in Pismo Beach", then you’ll know I have no idea what I’m tasting. And it will be our little secret.
You can read Sophie’s entire post here; it’s worth the read!