A student’s guide to all things wine

Wine — wonderful, wonderful wine. Some of the best times of my life are marked by the stains of a delicious Australian Shiraz. Then again, some of the worst times of my life are marked by those same stains.

Despite years of drinking wine with meals, at parties and pretty much every event in between, I never felt like I developed much of a palate. I generally stick to the five or so bottles I know I like and won’t let me down when making my trips to the liquor store.

It was not until recently that I was lucky enough to take part in my first ever real wine tasting. I say “real” because I don’t think the University Centre event I attended — where I tried to get as many samples as possible before my art history class — really counts.

As I sat down in De Luca Fine Wines, I marveled at the rows upon rows of selections. Where do I even begin, I thought. Wine purchasing can be intimidating that way, especially when you’re on a limited budget. A misstep could mean wasting $15 you couldn’t afford to waste in the first place.

Glass after glass, swirl after swirl, I was in wine lover’s heaven. This stuff was much better quality than I’m used to. I like to think that I have a great appreciation for wine, but I have never taken the time to really appreciate what I’ve poured into my glass the way I did there when I was being forced to swirl, sniff and taste as slowly as possible.

I’ll admit, about half of the information that was given to me went right over my head, and while we were explaining to each other how we smelt hints of blueberry and tasted notes of black licorice, sometimes I just smelt and tasted wine.

However, I definitely left with some valuable information from some very helpful people.

Jacqueline Poirier, an employee at De Luca, explained to me that there are actually a lot of affordable, high quality wines out there, but there is a huge misconception that a lot of people have that high price equals high quality.

Poirier suggested digging through the South American, Australian and South African wine sections for good quality bottles at affordable prices.

“I find that most customers that come into the store who don’t have a very developed palate yet chalk it up to them just not knowing wine enough or not having good taste, which is absurd,” said Poirier.

“The only way to become more knowledgeable about wine and to find out what you like is to try as many different things as you possibly can.”