Don't be intimidated by the world of wine - East Valley Tribune: Living Well

Living Well Don't be intimidated by the world of wine

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Robert Morris is owner and manager at East Valley restaurants Cork, BLD and Stax Burger Bistro. Reach him at (480) 883-3773 or

Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 7:00 am | Updated: 4:01 pm, Mon Oct 17, 2011.

“How do I learn more about wine?”

Often I get asked that question.

Wine can be very daunting because there is a lot of snobbery associated with it and because there is so much to know about: varietals (that’s the names of the grapes), countries, regions, climates, clones, flavor profiles, tastes (sweet, bitter, acidic), and on and on.

Start with the basics and then, if you want to know more, keep going. If you really are interested, there are three simple things you can do:

• Read. Several books will give you a foundation, but in my opinion “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course,” by Kevin Zraly, is the best intro.

Just this past week, one of my employees asked about learning more about wine. My wife recommended the “Windows on the World” book. Three hours later, the employee sent a text saying that she had purchased the book after her shift and couldn’t put it down. It’s a very easy read. The paragraphs are broken up, and there are interesting facts in the margins, so if you are someone who gets bored or distracted easily while reading (like I do) I highly recommend it.

• Talk. Most people love to discuss pop culture, movies, wine and spirits.

I was fortunate enough to have a manager who was well-versed in wine when I worked at Lon’s at the Hermosa. A group of servers and bartenders would get together with him once a week after work and drink and talk about wine. We graduated to bringing bottles in paper bags, trying to trick one another, which we still do sometimes today. We’re still friends and, in fact, work together at BLD!

If your friends don’t know much about wine, start by talking to your local bartender. Most of the bartenders at restaurants with good wine lists are educated on wine and love to talk. Strike up a conversation about what they like to drink and why. Find out what they did to learn more about wine.

• Drink. Purchase different entry-level wines under $10. Let’s face it — $2.50 a glass in the comfort of your own home can’t be bad.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I didn’t always like wine. It has been an acquired taste. The first wine I liked was Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, and I drank it because my girlfriend liked it. Gradually, I tried more and more wine, and now there isn’t much wine I won’t drink. If you want to learn more about wine, then you probably already have a taste for it. Expand upon that by picking up more bottles of what you like.

Let’s not forget, wine is simply fruit that has been fermented.

• Robert Morris is owner and manager at East Valley restaurants Cork, BLD and Stax Burger Bistro. Reach him at (480) 883-3773 or

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