Have you ever thought about what goes on in the mind of a wine taster when (s)he takes a sip of the wine and cocks his/her head in a direction or slits the eyes?
For wine tasters, drinking wine is like listening to music—there are loud and soft notes, lots of information to absorb, and everyone has unique tastes. But once you get past all the jargon, wine tasting can give you a greater understanding of the different varieties available, and more importantly, you will enjoy it more as you sip.
Once you recognise your tastes and preferences, you can use that knowledge to find other wines that you will enjoy.
Like most things, the only way to get better at describing a wine is to practice and constant practice gives you enough history for your palette to build on so you can compare other wines down the line.
New to wine tasting? Here are the tricks of wine tasting….
Start with a clear clean wine glass:
The rim of the glass should bend inwards to help funnel aromas to the nose and allow you to swirl without spilling.
Check out the colour:
To evaluate the appearance and color of a wine, you need to look at it against a white surface or under natural light. This is why a clear glass is important. Some of the things experts look for are the depth of colour, hue, and clarity. Tip the glass to the side a little bit and have a look at the colour. In general, white wines gain colour with age, while red wines will lose colour with age. This step is more about being able to recall – learning to identify, in general, what you are about to taste before you taste it. Over time, you may also be able to pinpoint grape types or locations based on the colour.
Take a look at those legs:
This is the part where you get to spin your wine in the glass, just the way you often see tasters do. Part of what they are doing is looking at the viscosity of the wine which indicates the alcohol content. “A wine’s legs” are the little drips that remain on the side of the glass when it is swished. The more legs that remain, the higher the alcohol content of the wine. Now you know.
Take a sniff at the wine:
Just put your nose right over the rim of the wine glass and breathe in. Experts say that most of a wine’s charm is actually in its smell, rather than its taste. Most wines have characteristic aromas of the grapes they are made from i.e. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, etc. The more experience you gain with different wine varietals, the easier it becomes to detect and identify characteristic wine aromas.
Take a sip:
It is finally time to taste the wine. Here’s a caution note- don’t swallow it yet. Take a sip and let your mouth feel it. As you bring the wine into your mouth, take in some air as well as this will help deepen the taste as well. Gently swish it around in your mouth. Be careful not to do it like you would swish mouthwash. Swish it gently, as if you are sharing the wine with every single one of your taste buds and every corner of your mouth.
Analyze how it feels and tastes:
The next thing to do is simply describe what you feel and taste. Is the wine heavy or thick like? Is it light and crisp like a glass of water? Now analyze the flavour – sweet, sour, bitter, or even salty? The analysis is yours to tell.
Wine tasting is harder to describe than it is to experience. We suggest you taste as many different wines as possible. Enjoy the taste and experience!