Wine tasting is easy. Just like tasting absolutely anything else, most of the work is done for you. Our brain partners taste and smell using sensory perceptors to identify what we perceive to be flavor. Traditionally we recognize four sensations of taste: sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. Additionally and most recently Easterners discovered a fifth sense of taste: umami, or “savory”. Combine with your favorite red, white or rose, the latter never among my personal choices, perhaps partnered with a nice entree, hors d’oeuvres or at your own discretion simply by itself, and you will find, and this I promise, tasting wine is one of the easiest things a person capable of doing so can do.
Having now tasted the wine and recoiling back in amazement at how easy it really is, go on! Give yourself a pat on the back! If you’ve found you enjoyed the taste, better yet! Treat yourself to another glass! Go on and get comfortable with your new found friend. A word of caution: I don’t suggest naming the wine anything but its trademarked title. Having personally become emotionally attached to a few particulars I found myself depressed having drunk them. Nonetheless, do take some time to note the flavors and sensations of each sip. And all joking aside, try not to drink the entire bottle. Always drink responsibly. I speak from experience.We’ve tasted the wine. It’s easy. And the writer said it was good. Now go back to it. This time, spend a little more time observing the aroma. Note the color.
As you expand your collection of experiences consider how color may indicate flavor. From here on the following suggestions in wine tasting are open for discussion. I’m just too predisposed about everything to be held accountable. But give it a try and you tell me. Additional note: should you be tasting in particular social settings etiquette may require you not actually swallow the wine. Most vineyards however will never chastise.Start with an empty glass. I prefer glasses with a tulip shape wider at the base of the bowl than at the top. There are different glasses for different wines, but I just happen to like this style for almost anything. Additionally, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) have chosen this style of wine glass specifically for tasting but it’s not a big deal.
Pour some wine in your glass. Just a good one or so second pour should do it. Note the color and initial characteristics, the perceived density perhaps. Next, take advantage of the shape of the glass. Remember: taste and smell. Some people like to just sniff about the top of the glass. All wrong. Get your nose in there. Go on. Take a good healthy breath. How does the smell make you feel? Can you taste anything in the smell? Next, give the glass a swizzle. The best way is to take the glass by the stem just above the foot with your thumb and index finger, smoothly spinning the foot in a clockwise circle flat against the table. For some reason when I do this the glass itself always tends to spin counter clockwise in my fingers. I don’t know why. I don’t know much about physics and the dynamics of moving objects other than inertia and momentum are real and speed apparently kills drink responsibly moving on. Look at the line where the wine rushed up towards the top. Watch the excess moisture fall. You’ll notice that “wet”, as I guess I’ll call it, as it pools back to the glass. It may pool down in threads.
This is an excellent indication of the tannins or rather the level of tannic acids in the wine. A slow thick line will indicate more tannins and a likely sharper taste.Most tannin’s are the result of skins, seeds and perhaps even stems of the grapes left during fermentation. Many wine makers actually take great care not to include unnecessary tannins, carefully crushing grapes as to not excessively damage the seeds. Often, dark reds will contain higher levels of tannins than light whites. High tannic levels may indicate a wines ability to mature longer and in some case better. Furthermore, tannic wines have recently been determined to be beneficial to your heart. Tannic acids happen to be excellent at breaking down complex fats, making those deep reds both an excellent compliment to a steak and a friend to your arteries.
Having swizzled the wine, smell it again. One more time, get your nose in there! Is it floral & sweet scented? Sharp? Does it linger? Is it strong or faint? Most of these questions will determine how to pair your wines during meals. For example, a good Cabernet with strong spiced-fruit aromas and a sharp, dry, diminishing body may do well with the pasta puttanesca’s tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, and chili peppers, though may not compliment the baked haddock, lime and dill.Finally, take a sip. Some people swirl and swish as though rinsing ones mouth. I saw someone gurgle once. Just my opinion, that looks dumb.
This being said, I’ll tell you what I like. I like to slurp. Sip as though your soup were too hot. Hold the wine in a pool between the tip of your tongue and your lower lip. Now pull the air through your lips and over the wine making that slurping sound uptight people hate. Note the combination of taste, smell, and sensation. I like this method. Rather than just sipping the wine and tasting what the top and back of your tongue pick up, you will provoke all of the glandular areas in your mouth.
A good dessert Riesling for example, floral, traditionally with lovely overtones of melon and what I deem to be gooseberry or elderflower, will fall to the sides of your tongue, rolling back along the parotid glands like a silk cordial. Finally, finish off the glass. If you plan to move on to the next wine I would suggest eating a small piece of bread. It helps soak up the remaining wine in your mouth, leaving your pallet clean and prepped.You’ve poured the wine. Smelled, swizzled, observed, swizzled again, swished, swirled, slurped, or maybe gurgled, and finally thoroughly and successfully indulged. Pat on the back. Wine tasting is easy.