There are many people that simply open up a bottle of wine, pour it into a glass, and drink it down with very little thought to the subtleties of taste and smell. These people are missing out on something amazing. If one just takes a little time to view, smell and taste the wine before drinking it, a whole world will open up and one’s appreciation of wine will take on a whole new level. This is wine tasting and it is one of my favorite things to do.
Now, you must remember that wine tasting is more of an art than a science. After all, our sense of taste and smell is individual and we all like and dislike different things. But, wine tasting can be broken down into a few simple steps and if you follow them, your appreciation of these wonderful drinks will be greatly enhanced. These steps are easy to do and will bring out the flavors and aromas of every wine you drink
Wine tasting starts with having a selection of wines to taste – usually a combination of different reds and whites, and sometimes a sparkling wine, champagne or rose thrown in for good measure. But where do you get the wines from and how to choose? Well, the simple way is to order wines from a wine club and have them delivered every month. A good monthly wine club such as the Vino Paraiso Monthly Wine Club will mean you have expertly selected wines to taste whenever the need arises.
You wine tasting starts with picking the right glass. Now, there are specific wine tasting glasses, such as the Reidel tasting glass that are used by sommeliers, but it is best just to use traditional glasses for red and white –with the red wine glass being wider so it has more surface volume to allow the wine to breath. You then simply pour a nice measure into your glass and are ready for the next step.
Next comes the swishing and swirling of the wine in the glass. There is a very good reason to swirl wine around the glass, especially red, as this lets the wine “breath” which means letting the air and wine mix. This allows the flavors and smells of the wine to come out – and makes the wine taste better.
After swirling the wine around the glass you then take a good look at the wine, from different angles, in the glass as you can tell much about a wine by how it looks (strange as that may seem). What you are looking for is the color of the wine. Red wines, as you will see, are not really red – they all different shades of dark purple and these colors can give you, with experience, an idea about the grapes used to make the wine and the age of it. White wines, like red, are not white and will be subtle shades of, predominantly, yellow. Another tell-tale sign of quality and age you may see is what are called the “legs” of the (red) wine. This is how sticky the wine is to the side of the glass. Wines that stick to the side of the glass are usually richer, bolder and simply better.
It is now time to put our noses in action and smell the wine. You could, if you want, just stick your nose right in the glass and take a big breath – but that is not what I recommend. I like to take a quick sniff first to get an initial idea about what the wine smells like. I let this quick small linger for a second or so while I decide my initial impressions – and then I go in for the big, long, deep, smell. I process this smell in my mind, for a few seconds, then swirl the glass once more and then take another big smell to let even more of the aroma’s (called “the nose”) fill me senses. You must remember that our sense of smell is hugely important to our sense of taste – in fact there are many food items (such as apples and onions) that do not taste of anything if our noses are completely blocked (which is why there is not point wine tasting if you have the flu).
Next comes the actual tasting. You should swish it around your mouth so all your taste buds get to explore the flavors. Remember, the front and the back parts of our tongue contain 100’s of taste buds – so use them all. Many foods, such as those that are salty or sweet, are easily tasted in our mouths – but wine is a little different as the flavors are more subtle. To appreciate all the flavors in wine you need to swish it around in your mouth and allow your taste buds to sense the multitude of flavors.
You can now swallow the wine, if you wish – and I normally do. Of course, if you are tasting many different wines, if you are at a winery for example, you may want to spit some of them out. Remember that wine is a strong alcohol.
So those are the steps you can take to get maximum pleasure from drinking wines. Do this, consistently, with every new bottle you open and your appreciation and knowledge of this amazing dink will go from strength to strength.