How to become a ‘wine expert’ in four hours

A doctor of psychology has devised 10 simple steps which he claims can set you off on the road to becoming a wine expert in just four hours.

Wine-Glasses-CheersDr Alex Russell, a PhD student at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney, has worked in the wine retail industry for over 10 years. He recently completed his PhD on “the taste and smell perception of wine”, which looked at whether novices can become wine experts.

He claims that provided you have a “working nose and mouth”, anyone can become a wine expert.

“A lot of people think that wine experts are full of it but I’ve been investigating this area for the past seven years and it turns out there is a knack to it”, he said.

Publishing his tips on the University of Sydney’s website, the PHD student assures participants that they will start to see improvements after just a few hours, adding that to build that into expertise you’ll need “time, money and dedication”.

Ranging from how to pick out flavours to advice on learning about winemaking methods and regions, his tips are a crash course in the world of wine.

Click through to take a look at his 10 tips on what you need to do to set out on the road to becoming a wine expert…

Let us know what you think of his tips by leaving a comment below.

9 Responses to “How to become a ‘wine expert’ in four hours”

  1. Wombles says:

    While pretty much every “tip” there is fairly obvious, I cannot help but to really like how he translates commonplaces into something more analytical. Provides interesting change of perspectives.

  2. James Cluer says:

    Ridiculous. Why don’t you tell people you can get a PhD in 4 hours too…

  3. Geoff Weaver says:

    It is ridiculous. What about key concepts like complexity, balance, length, mouthfeel texture and style. No mention of these. Superficial at best. I don’t argue with the tips but they are the tip of the iceberg.

  4. Mike Simpson says:

    Here are two things to improve your ability to taste and talk like a pro in minutes:

    Le Nez du Vin
    Essential Wine Tasting Guide


  5. Alex Russell says:

    Hi all and thanks for the interest in the story, The headline is a bit misleading – if you read the first point, you’ll clearly see that I specifically said they weren’t experts after four hours.

    These are points for the people taking their first steps, who are intimidated by the whole thing, or who think wines all taste the same. There is certainly a lot more to becoming an expert than just what’s here. These are the first baby steps.

  6. Alex Hunt says:

    These may seem obvious or superficial, but I wonder how many people actually follow tip #4. Training the brain to recognise aroma/flavour without visual cues is key, and I think it helps to practise on non-wine foods.

    I used to warm up en route to blind tasting sessions by practising on jelly babies: close eyes, bite head off, guess flavour, check colour of legs, eat legs, repeat. Only six options but it took a while to get them 100% right.

    So who knows – maybe I’d have been hopeless at wine tasting without this basic training…

  7. Liam Young says:

    At some point we have to lift the veil on wine. So much of what most people can get their hands on is commercial wine, typically bulk produced and ‘teased’ with enhancements related to aroma or flavour to help sell them a little better to the unsuspecting masses. Unfortunately, the wine world helps perpetuate this somewhat deceptive practice by endorsing corporate wines with 90+ scores without a clear explicit statement for consumers about what’s actually in the wine or where it comes from (yes, I’m aware of different AOC / AC / etc requirements, but these still allow for some play, especially in the New World of wines).

    My greatest fear is that commercial wines will eventually embarrass the entire wine establishment. I’d like to see two classes of wine emerge – commercial and artisan – with clear statements concerning any enhancements that have been made. If that’s not available, then Dr. Russell is on to something by helping everyone understand and interpret what is most accessible: commercial wines.

    If we don’t make an effort to differentiate wine, ‘wine tasting’ will quickly slip into the world of comparing different colas or potato chips, depreciate the efforts of so many great wine authorities.

  8. Alec Merkt-Caprile says:

    Perhaps the person who wrote the headline should have read the article first.

    On that note, the word ‘expert’ is thrown around far too loosely nowadays.. especially in this industry, it seems. A shame the time, effort, and dedication of some is being downplayed and degraded so easily.

  9. Bill says:

    People,,, relax, take a deep breath, BREATHE, then read the article. It doesn’t say that everyone will be a sammoliery(intentional misspelling). Maybe look at it as a nicely written article with some interesting information.
    To the author, thanks, nice article. Good job. I am not an EXPERT, just someone that has been making wine for awhile and found your article good, interesting reading.

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