Regular wine tasting helps to fine-tune the palate

By Mary Ross
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted4/1/2020 6:00 AM

Note: This is from a column published in the Daily Herald on Dec. 17, 1997.

People ask me all the time, "What's the best way to learn about wine?" The answer: Taste, taste, taste.


Certainly, excellent wine books abound. For a fun read and all-purpose reference, I recommend "Hugh Johnson's Modern Encyclopedia of Wine," published by Simon and Schuster. For an exhaustive bit of scholarship, "The Oxford Companion to Wine," edited by Jancis Robinson, is nonpareil, providing vinous detail from abbocato (Italian for medium sweet) to Zweigelt (Austria's most popular red grape).

But before you turn your brain on to wine, you need to turn on your senses with regular tasting.

Advanced palates in training for examination such as the Master of Wine will swirl, sniff, slurp and spit six or more wines daily. If easier appreciation is your aim, a few bottles each week will suffice, a few minutes of concentration with each, hopefully, to be followed by a good meal and sheer enjoyment.

Your primary requirement is a steady supply of wine. But maybe you can't find a reliable wine merchant in your vicinity. Maybe your schedule or stress level won't permit another errand. Maybe you approach wandering through a wine shop without a clue with the same enthusiasm as buying a holiday present for your boss.

For convenient wine purchases at good-value prices, backed by expert palates, many wine lovers have turned to mail-order wine clubs. Of course, our dynamic Chicagoland market is unique for our selection of top-notch clubs including Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe, Northbrook (847) 498-9300. Knightsbridge offers hard to find, but harder to forget, Knightsbridge is a jewel of a wine shop featuring the world's finest wines from $7 and up (way up).

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Proprietor Johnson Ho reflects his super-premium specialty with two wine clubs: The Jolly Good Wine Club invites new wine lovers to explore the highways and the byways of wine, discovering world famous regions as well as the wine world's best-kept secrets.

Mail-order clubs offer the convenience of delivery to home or office. With their large, guaranteed orders, clubs receive large discounts from suppliers, which are passed along to members. Most importantly, the wines offered by these clubs have been tasted and selected by wine-loving professionals.

Some clubs can accommodate last-minute delivery of holiday gifts; others, a personalized note announcing New Year delivery. All clubs deliver throughout Illinois, but out-of-state delivery is shrinking with increased federal regulation of the wine industry (but that's another story).

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