|Wine tasting basics begin with getting in touch with your
senses. Wine is fully enjoyed when you engage your senses
of sight, smell, taste, and touch.
The sense of hearing might come into play when you exude
a long sigh after taking a sip of a wonderful wine. Otherwise,
it is the only sense that doesn’t play a major role in wine
It is important to understand how you can engage all of your
senses to truly enjoy a glass of wine.
||First, understand what you are looking for when you see a glass of wine. Some might say
that the appearance is not that important but most of us are very visually-oriented people.
Therefore, when examining the look of the wine you are observing the color and clarity.
We want the wine to have a rich, brilliant hue that is clear. Different grape varietals will
have different color hues; from a light yellow to rich amber of white wines to a light
strawberry color in Pinot Noir to a deep, almost black of Petite Sirah.
Wine in the glass should not have any sediment or cloudiness. However, sediment can often
occur at the bottom of the bottle and is not a reflection of the wines quality. Wines that are not fined or filtered may have sediment in the bottle.
|A good quality wine will have an intense color.
The “legs” seen running down the sides of a glass after it is
swirled, may indicate the intensity of the wine’s flavor and
may be an indication of the wine’s alcohol content.
A good tip when viewing the wine is to hold it up against a
plain white background, swirl the wine slowly, and tilt the
glass slightly as you observe the color and clarity of the wine
before taking that first sip.
|The sense of smell is one of the most complex of the five
senses and is important for wine tasting.
Your nose has hundreds more receptors than your mouth.
The sense of smell is probably your most intense measuring
tool in wine tasting, though taste is the ultimate pay off.
The wine glass plays an important part in creating the right
environment to experience the full aroma of the wine.
Take a deep inhale of the wine before tasting it.
The goal is to try and identify the nuances of the “nose” or the essence of the wine’s aroma. Is the wine’s nose
sweet, fruity, or spicy? Can you recognize the characteristics of the grape varietal? Is the nose unpleasant or harsh?
|Drinking wine is the marriage between the sense of taste
and smell. You want to be able to engage both of the senses
in every sip. The taste of the wine might change as it enters
the mouth, sits in your mouth, and as you swallow. Take a sip
and hold it in your mouth and swish it around a bit before you
Observe how the wine changes at the front end (as it enters
your mouth), middle (as it sits in your mouth) and at the finish
(as you swallow and the flavor lingers). Some wines are very
fruit-forward which means that as the wine enters your
mouth the berry tastes are prevalent.
It is said that humans can only perceive four tastes: bitter, salty, sweet and sour. These tastes are perceived through
the taste buds on parts of your tongue. You taste sweetness typically on the tip of your tongue while things that are
bitter tend to be in the back of your tongue. Acidity or anything sour sometimes makes people pucker so it is detected
on the sides of the mouth while saltiness can be sensed in the upper and front parts of the tongue. It is important
to note how the wine tastes on all of the sensory points in your mouth.
|The sense of touch in wine tasting refers to the feel of the
wine in your mouth or the taste sensation. As you taste
the wine, feel the wine on your palate. As you taste
the wine, do you get impressions of weight (light, medium or full-bodied), texture (silkiness, smoothness, or harshness), or
astringency (dryness or bitterness at the back of your palate)
Observe how the wine finishes in your mouth. This aftertaste
and the length of time the wine lingers are all related to the
sense of touch and taste sensation. Many say that the longer
a wine lasts in your mouth the better the wine. Others don’t
care for a long finish.
The most important thing about enjoying wine is for you to determine what you like and don’t like. Experiment with
different wines made from different varietals. Don’t give up on a type of wine because you did not like a wine
produced by one winery. Every winemaker and every vintage imparts its personality into the wine. Have fun and
you decide what you like.
SPECIAL NOTE: Have you been the one responsible for ordering a bottle of wine for dinner and being asked by the
waiter to taste the wine and you were not certain what to do?
Well you are not alone. Many are under the impression that when the bottle is opened and a small amount of wine is
poured into your wine glass it is for you to determine if you like it or not. Well, that is not the purpose. What you are
being asked to do is to inspect the wine to ensure that it is not flawed. So how do you do that?
First, you look at the color and clarity of the wine. There should be no solids in the wine and it should be clear.
Secondly, inspect the cork. The waiter will always put the cork down on the table. Inspect the cork for any problems
such as mold or other problems.
Lastly, swirl the wine in the glass and take a big sniff of the wine. It should not smell rotten, moldy, musty, or like wet
cardboard. You should be able to tell if the wine is bad by smelling it. If you are still not certain, take a sip of the wine
and/or ask the waiter or sommelier to taste it. You will know if the wine has gone bad because it won’t taste good.
It is unusual for you to get a bad bottle of wine if it has been handled properly, but it happens. You might get a bottle
of wine that you did not like, but that is never the reason for sending the bottle back. You might have just made
a bad choice for you.
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