So I just started reading Windows of the World: Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly and I must say I am excited by what I've read so far. I think I'm really going to learn a lot even though the first course was about the white wines of France, which is no easy task to learn. Now let me preface by saying I never took French in school and am not familiar with how to pronounce any word that has more than 3 vowels in a row. Thank goodness for the excellent pronunciation section in the back of the book. I had to flip to that at least 50 times throughout this first lesson. ANYWAY, I really do think that as far as learning the many regions where wine is produced, this book will be an excellent tool. I will of course give a full review once I complete it.
I've received the other books in the mail as well. I am hoping to get through them sometime this century! :-) Seriously though I think I'm going to get a lot of information out of them. I am particularly excited to read about tasting wine. This is after all what wine is here for anyway. I can learn as many facts as I want, but ultimately the pleasure comes in the form of experience. I am hoping to stick with the flow of learning and begin my tasting with French wines as well. To be honest I have always made my wine selection based on the look of the label. Does the wine have a colorful animal on it? Done! While this has gotten me through thus far I do realize that there's a lot more to picking out a good wine. Picking out a French wine is a little mind numbing for many reason. Mainly, the French wine labels are obviously not in English. Secondly, they tend to look very plain. But understanding what to look for is worth your while, or at least that's what I'm finding out.
Another thing that makes selecting French wine very difficult for American consumers like me is that French wine is emphasized and labeled by the region (appellation) and not by the varietal (type of grape). We are used to picking out a Cabernet Sauvignon for example or a Pinot Gris. These are the actual types of grape for which the wine is made. When selecting a French wine however, you may pick a Bordeaux. A Bordeaux is not a type of grape but actually a region in France. Other regions include Burgundy and Champagne. The wines grown and produced in these regions are made from the various grapes grown locally to that area. There are many other sub regions for which the wines may be named as well.
Its a tricky business but I do hope to become more proficient. And I will be coming to you and sharing as much as I can about my progress.