Subscriber OnlyDrink

I want to know more about wine, where should I start?

How to Drink Better: The first and most important way to learn about wine is to think as you drink

There are lots of ways to learn about wine, with both in-person and online courses available. Photograph: iStock

Q. How can I learn more about wine?

A. I know that many people are intimidated by wine and find all of the nomenclature confusing. Sadly, wine is complicated, and I would be wary of anyone who claims they will make it all simple. Even those who are involved in the business (myself included) would not claim to know everything about wine.

That said, a little knowledge will certainly increase the pleasure you get from drinking a glass of wine. The first and most important way to learn about wine is to think as you drink. Before you open your bottle, do a bit of background research (online or in a book) on the particular wine, the region it comes from and the grape varieties.

Take time to swirl, sniff and taste, preferably before your meal, and try to identify the flavours and styles that you like most. It is always a good idea to make notes – just so you remember what you tasted. They can be as simple as “like” or “didn’t like”. Talk to the people who work in your local wine shop, who will usually be keen to help, and try buy something different every time, thereby building up a bank of knowledge.

If you feel like taking it a step further, there are apps, books and many classes, online and in person, that you can join. If you aren’t sure, some offer once-off tasting evenings or one-day introductions to wine, both a great way of dipping your toe in.


Online wine courses have the advantage of being there whenever you want them and allow you to learn at your own speed. In-person wine courses can be a great way to meet people or have a fun group night out. You could always form your own wine club with a few friends, which allows you to share the cost of opening a few bottles at a time.

Online Irish courses include Virtual Vineyards with Brigid O’Hara, Wine Tasting Ireland with Lynda Coogan, A Wine Idea with Sevgi Tüzel-Conghaile and the Nude Wine Co with Michelle Lawlor.

Maureen O’Hara of Premier Wine Training runs a series of wine courses, including a one-day introduction; Máirín Uí Mhurchú of Fáilte Wine Education and La Cave wine bar in Dublin have been running courses for many years.

Many wine retailers also run courses, including Whelehans in Loughlinstown, Searsons in Monkstown, both in Dublin, and O’Donovan’s in Cork. This is not an exhaustive list. There is probably a course being run in your locality. Check out your local wine shop to see if they offer tastings or courses.