Your Wine IQ


Beaujolais vineyards

Vineyards in Beaujolais. Photo by Geoff Wong. License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Until recently, you could simply order a glass of red wine or a bottle of white wine without seeming dull and ignorant. No more! Now this type of vague request indicates a low wine IQ. And showing off a low wine IQ is widely regarded as boorish behavior.

However, wine is a complex matter. The choice of red versus white can be pretty simple, but the rest of the details about the subject of wine are anything but. It is unlikely that you feel you have the time to master this intoxicating art.

If you think the subject of wine is intimidating and seems way too massive and highly technical, you're right. But think of it this way: Wine can be one of the most enjoyable subjects you ever decide to study. How many other topics do you research with a glass of Pinot Noir in your hand?

So don't cop out on improving your wine IQ. Instead, ask yourself the following questions:

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you've come to the right place.

Wine experts agree that the best route to enhancing your wine know-how is by learning about wine styles, wine regions, wine grapes, and some of the most highly regarded wines.

All this can be accomplished by perusing this website.

Here is where you will find an in-depth look at the wine styles, wine regions and wine grapes of the world.

You can find info about almost every country that makes wine, particularly France, and the regions within each and the distinctions between them.

As you begin to learn about wine, you will find there is much to read about, too much for a single sitting. So you might want to drop by regularly to read up on Arneis, Barolo, Chablis and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Or look us up before you go to your local wine shop or neighborhood eatery. Determine what wines you might like to try, and prepare yourself with the details about your selections.

Improving your knowledge of wine can be a lot of fun if you take the time to taste the wines you are reading about here. While you taste, think about where the grapes were grown, and how the bottle was aged. Ponder the history of the château, and reflect on how the wines you are sampling might have been enjoyed by historical figures, maybe even kings. Remember that wine is a living thing. Until you open a bottle, the wine you are about to drink is changing and aging, improving itself. Just like you are.

Here's a little quiz you can use to measure your current wine IQ. Don't be discouraged. If you are not yet a cork dork, you can become one simply by reading through this site and tasting a variety of wines.

The Wine IQ Test

1. What is the name of the natural component of red wine that is said to help reduce the risk of some diseases in humans?
Vitamin C

2. What color grapes are commonly used to make white wine?
Green and Red

3. What grape is used to make Italy's famous Barolo wine?

4. Which of these red wine grapes is grown almost exclusively in California?
Cabernet Sauvignon
Petite Sirah

5. Spain is well-known for which type of fortified wine?

6. What is a common nickname for the sweet Bordeaux wine Sauternes?
Liquid caviar
Liquid gold
Party wine
Millionaires' rot

7. Which of the following (very expensive) wines comes from Burgundy?
Château Pétrus
Clos du Mesnil
E. Guigal "La Turque"

8. Which special method is used by French Champagne producers to elicit the famous bubbles?
Noble rot
Double fermentation
Méthode de France

9. What grape did Miles prefer in the movie Sideways?
Pinot Noir
Cabernet Franc

10. Which of the following wines is produced in Côte-Rôtie, France?
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave "Cathiard"
E. Guigal "Brune et Blonde"
Château de Beaucastel "Hommage a Jacques Perrin"

Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way to becoming a wine geek:

  1. Explore a type of wine in depth. Try various vintages, try the same vintage from different producers. Make an effort to compare wines from France to the same styles from California and other parts of the wine world. Don't take the experts' ratings, opinions, and flavor pronouncements at face value. One of the great things about wine is that every individual will very often experience the exact same wine completely differently than the next.
  2. Find a wine store you like. Get to know the retailer, and tell him or her that you are interested in trying new wines. Most wine stores offer free samples on a regular basis. Talk to the wine reps and you will learn a lot about a wide variety of wines.
  3. Attend wine tastings and classes. You will be introduced to the language of wine, new regions and styles. And you will be able to try some unusual or exclusive wines you might not buy on your own.
  4. Join a wine club. You will be able to sample a variety of wines with others who share your interest. Buying wine with a group can help cut costs, allowing you all to try some of the more elite wines.
  5. Wherever you travel, drink the local wines. You will be surprised to find that many parts of the country and many countries of the world produce interesting wines on a small scale. While visiting other locales, you can find some terrific wines you will not be able to purchase once you arrive home—many of the world's wines are never exported.

The most important thing to remember when you are improving your wine IQ is this: Keep an open mind and enjoy yourself. You'll become a wine geek without even noticing. Soon enough, you'll be impressing everyone at the table without even trying. Because you'll know exactly what you're drinking—and you'll be having such a good time drinking it.

Margaux bottles

Margaux bottles. This photo is in the public domain.