Consuelo Martinez-Quattrocchi – managing partner at Villa Graziella and Villa Gabriella Organic – can smell a great wine before it even hits the glass. This weekend, she’ll be featuring her company’s amazing wines made with certified organic grapes at the One of a Kind show at Merchandise Mart, but before the show kicks off, she’s sharing her best advice for novice wine tasters and collectors.
Here are the five things every woman should know about wine.
1. Be Adventurous and Open-minded
Martinez-Quattrocchi believes wine tasting and collecting should be an exciting adventure.
“The great thing about Chicago is that we have a really vibrant wine scene,” she says.
For anyone trying to learn more about wine, Martinez-Quattrocchi recommends heading to a wine bar on a Saturday night or enrolling in a tasting class and trying all types of wines.
2. Find a Good Store and Salesperson
There’s no shame in asking questions. If you want to learn more about pairing wines and foods, Martinez-Quattrocchi suggests finding a store and salesperson in your area.
A knowledgeable salesperson is an invaluable asset when you’re just starting to learn about wine pairings. He or she will know the store’s selection best and will be able to make great recommendations no matter the occasion. Find someone who understands your needs and tastes, and you’ll have a new best friend.
3. Taste with Your Eyes and Nose
To really taste a wine like a pro, Martinez-Quattrocchi recommends using as many senses as possible to taste.
“We eat with our eyes,” she says, “and we taste with our eyes.”
Once a wine is poured, observe the color and observe its brightness. Then take a whiff of the wine. If it’s in good condition, Martinez-Quattrocchi says, your nose will be able to tell right away.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t taste wines in a more traditional manner. When you do take a sip, roll it around in your mouth and let all the different components come together.
4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
“When I started,” Martinez-Quattrocchi says, “I started going away from my usual go-to wines.”
The best way to start is to challenge yourself in terms of taste and geographical region. If you love sweet wines, try semi-sweets and meads. If you swear by wines made in Italy and France, try some from Australia and New Zealand.
To challenge herself, Martinez-Quattrocchi branched out of the Tuscany region where Villa Graziella’s wines are produced and took classes on wines from New Zealand and Burgundy, France.
“I always try to learn something,” she says.
5. Pay Attention to the Ingredients List
Wines made with organic grapes do not have any additives or preservatives added during the aging and bottling processes. The result, Martinez-Quattrocchi, is a clean taste, one free of residues left over from conventionally farmed grapes.
“I know taste is a personal preference, but the studies I’ve read indicate that organic wines receive higher marks for their taste, not just from critics but from consumers,” Martinez-Quattrocchi says.
When choosing a wine at the store, check out the ingredients list. Sulfite, for example, is a common wine preservative that is detectable above the 50 parts per million (PPM) level, according to Wine Folly.
Be sure to catch Martinez-Quattrocchi and Villa Graziella at the One of a Kind show at Merchandise Mart from April 29-May 1.