Because I am a world traveling, sophisticate, gourmand and wine aficionado many people ask me, how do you drink that shit? Well, mi compadre let me tell you how to learn to drink the vino.
First of all it's better than that loaf of bread in a glass, beer. Except for the Belgian stuff, and the good local German breweries. Also the Hungarians. Oh and this little craft Japanese Weizen beer.
When you are ready to stop hanging out with the hoi polloi you have to switch to the grape. My advice, if you want to learn to tell the difference between the plonk and a finely produced Bordeaux is, pick one grape. Just one. Merlot, Chardonnay, Roussanne and just drink that for one year. This will help you learn the characteristics of that one grape. Unless you drink several times a day, in that case it will take you much less time, since you are probably out of work anyway. When you spend a sufficient time drinking a single varietal you will begin to tell the difference between a good bottle and a bad one. One that is tight (or lacking in big flavor or smell.) or one that is unbalanced (a good smell but no real taste or aftertaste.)
The smell, or nose, is the first impression of a wine. It's called the "the nose", because that's what the French say. I don't know why, they're strange. Anywho, it is really half of the experience and after a time you will begin to understand what are the basic aromas or "notes" that exist in your wine, the wine you chose to learn first. For instance in Chardonnay you might smell stone fruit, peach, and maybe honey and that smells good, So drink! But these flavors will be common to the type of wine you picked.
Don't be suckered into thinking that you have to drink a certain kind of wine with a certain type of food. First of all, if you selected Pinot Gris you will be eating salad for a year, [shudders.] It's fine to drink a white with meat, or a red with something light. You are in training! But really it's not some sancro-sanct rule, the point is that you enjoy. The people who act snobbish about wine are twits and I have found that they don't really know about it. They only pretend to know what they are tasting. I have served people like this a corked wine and they never noticed.
Wine is a lot of fun, a good chef can make a new flavor out of the blending of their food and a well paired wine. Sometimes more than one flavor. Besides chicks will think you are a world traveling sophisticate and you will enjoy more sex. Studies have shown that people who drink wine have more sex. It's true, look it up. Beer drinkers almost never have sex, except with themselves.
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the 2 biggies, Sauvignon Blanc is the lighter more accessible wine, usually Chardonnay has been barreled in so much oak as to be indistinguishable from licking a tree. The German grape Gewürztraminer, which is important to say with a German accent because it sounds cooler, is a little sweet. Oh and when someone says a wine is dry, they mean it's not that sweet. There are plenty of others but no-one has ever heard of them. Except Muscat, which was featured in the famous song Muscat Love. When you have finished your year drinking Sauvignon Blanc you can discover Dessert Wine, or as I call it, some motherfucking excellent shit.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (or Syrah), Merlot, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir. Don't pick Pinot first. The flavors in Pinot are too subtle, thats why it's known as the Sommelier's wine. It takes some time to be able to distinguish all the different tastes. When I picked my wine I picked Cabernet Sauvignon. A friend of mine recommends Merlot at first, the flavors are simpler than Cab and wont overwhelm you. It is available at pretty much every place that serves wine, it can be drunk with fish or beef and it tastes good. It can be dry and lack much sweetness. Although its not that stuffy, the name is derived from Sauvage which is French for wild! We all know that the French can be wild.
The point is that good wine is any wine that you enjoy. I can still sit and have a glass of crappy Italian house wine with a simple plate of pasta and also enjoy a $500 bottle of Pinot.