Wine is a good trainer for your pallet. Craft beer is like the training wheels version in that the flavors are much more in-your-face and easier to notice. Whiskey is like an advance course because you have to sift through the booze and burn to get the complexity of good whiskey. With whiskey, I would recommend bourbon, not solely because I think it's better than Scotch, but also it's cheaper.
So alcohol is a good way to train:lol: just practice moderation.
While we are talking vices... cigars are also fantastic pallet trainers. Although too much can lead to damage but most the great chefs smoke so whatever.
On more of a boyscout route... coffee is much more complex when you get the good stuff and brew it correctly. I like french press but purist stick with manual brewing. Good stuff doesn't mean starbucks... they are about on board with mcdonalds now. Good stuff is usually fair trade and roasted either at high altitude, Vail Mountain Roasting Co. Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Co. :: Home Page
or done by someone who knows what he or she is doing... Zingerman's Coffee Zingerman's Coffee Company
As far as basic food tasting: the first thing for me is proper seasoning. Taste food as you slowly increase the s&p and find out when the flavor of the food is at its fullest and then what it tastes as you add too much.
Maybe do some studying on the physiology of taste, I need more myself. But remember only 5 tastes. Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami. After that it's in the nose. The chemical in Syrah wine that makes it taste like white pepper is (drumroll...) the same chemical that's in black pepper. So there is a lot of science that can help you understand what you're trying to taste.
I would find a food cooperative and buy a small portion of every spice they had and study their smell then try adding them to unsalted water crackers and tasting. I'm gonna go do this now that I'm recommending it to someone else.
Take some beef tips and boil some then saute some others. Taste the caramelization. Fry some onions, then caramelize some onions.
Take all those spices and see where you can go with them in a daily omellete.
As far as other qualiies of "Great Chefs": Thomas Keller says you need desire. I'd say to be great at anything you need desire? I'm sure the will and desire of Gordon Ramsay would have allowed him to overcome just about anything to get his three stars. Just look at this YouTube - Ramsay's Boiling Point E1P1
Let me know if this helps.