How to Really Taste Wine
Humans have consumed wine for thousands of years. It is thought, however, that the tastes of wine of centuries past didn’t come close to the wines we have today. Over the centuries, the process of winemaking has greatly improved because better methods of growing and harvesting grapes, along with the wine production process itself, have been discovered. Today, many nations make wine and newly blended wines are constantly being improved. With hundreds of different wines on the market, it is important to know how to taste wine so that you may enjoy it to the fullest. Unlike a glass of cola beverage, wines are not gulped down in one motion, but several body senses are used to assess the quality and taste. The four most commonly used measures are: look, smell, taste, and think/examine/conclude.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF WINE TASTING?
How do you go about understanding the tastes of wine? Wine tasting is an organized process that uses the senses of sight, smell, and taste to examine and assess the beverage. First, acquire the right lingo so that your vocabulary is on par with the professionals. Some of the things that you are looking for in wine tasting include the following:
- The appearance of the wine
- The aroma
- Where the wine was made
- The quality
WHERE IS WINE TASTING DONE?
Wine tasting may be a formal or informal event and can be done privately at home, at a wine bar, winery tasting room, or at a private tasting session in a cellar. The key is to have an environment that is comfortable, quiet, and devoid of any distractions.
DEVELOP A SYSTEM FOR WINE TASTING
When you want to learn how to taste wine, it is important to have a system in your mind that you can follow. Your aim is to eventually judge the wine for its quality and rate it from poor to very good. Or you may want to be more thorough and discuss the various elements of wine tasting and grade them on a numeric scale. Hence, have a small notebook handy so that you can write down your evaluations and impressions for comparison with others when understanding the tastes of wine.
THE PROCESS OF WINE TASTING
It is best to use a deep stemmed wine glass that allows you to swirl the wine.
Use your nose to take a sniff and breathe out via the mouth; this will allow you to capture the aroma.
The first sips are vital so pay attention to the taste.
If you are tasting several wines, do not swallow the wine, but spit it out. This will help keep your taste buds sharp. You can also rinse your mouth before the next tasting session.
When you are learning how to taste wine, make notes of how it impacts your different senses. Some of the features about wine that you should be looking for include the following:
What does the wine look like? Is the color inviting, seductive? Dull? Exotic? You may be able to tell the type of grape used to make the wine. A light-colored red wine might be Pinot Noir and a dark ruby red wine may be Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red wines tend to be dark when young and fade with time. White wines tend to be bright and glossy when young and may become gold or bronze with time.
Is there any sediment or particles in the wine? This may indicate an old wine.
Is the wine free-flowing or viscous when you swirl it? The higher the viscosity, the more likely this wine has a high sugar content or high alcohol content.
Use your sense of smell to reveal more about the wine. Does it have a corked or musty smell? This does not mean that the wine is bad necessarily, just unpleasant to smell.
Is the intensity of the wine strong or weak? Pinot Grigio has a soft smell, whereas Sauvignon Blanc will instantly alert your nose to something strong.
Do you smell any fruits in the wine? White wines may have citrus or orchard (apples, peach, nectarine) fruity smells, whereas red wines will have a berry and black (plum, blackcurrant) fruity smell.
Can you smell any spices, like thyme, black pepper, rosemary? In many aged wines, you may note the presence of spices, like nutmeg or cinnamon.
Is there an earthy smell of damp leaves or wet stones?
Is there a chocolate smell? White wines may have a note of caramel or buttery brioche, whereas red wines may have cocoa or coffee smells. These smells arise as a result of the fermentation process.
Take a sip to determine the taste of the wine. Understanding the tastes of wine includes looking at the wine structure and body, which are made of alcohol, sugar, acidity, and tannins. A balanced wine will have these four elements in the right proportions.
Does the wine feel dry or is there sweetness left in your mouth? High alcohol wines can cause instant dryness at the back of the throat.
Did you feel a warming sensation? This may be due to the warming effect of the alcohol.
Does the wine have an astringent or bitter taste? This indicates high levels of tannins, which are common in Cabernet Sauvignon and low in Pinot Noir.
Finally, judge the overall quality of the wine. This is dependent on how long the flavors last in your mouth. In general, high-quality and older wines tend to have more flavors and will leave a longer taste in your mouth.
The best way to acquire the skill of how to taste wine is to have someone else pour the wine for you, and then allow yourself to hone on the merits of the type of grapes, the aroma, and the structure. Compare your results to others when understanding the tastes of wine to determine if you agree. But remember, at the end of the day, wine tasting is not an exam. It is pure fun, entertaining, and educational. If you like the wine, fill the glass and enjoy it.
If you’re looking to taste some new wines, then check out our current inventory!