Wine tasting, that well known ritual that every wine lover looks forward to! Read on to learn what goes, what does not, and how the connoisseurs really do it.
The Main Elements of Wine Tasting
- The most important elements involved in the enjoyment of wine are your senses. Taste and smell sum up about all you will ever really need, closely followed by sight.
- Do not consume any strongly flavored foods before a wine tasting session. The sense of taste is paramount to the enjoyment of the many flavors that form a part of the wine and you would need a clean palate to enjoy the subtleties of the wines' flavor. Try and avoid chewing gum, or even smoking before a tasting session in order to get the maximum out of the taste element. Strong perfumes and deodorants are also to be avoided as they mar the sense of smell for the taster.
- If you do need to eat something for palate cleansing at the very least, restrict yourself to unsalted crackers or unflavored breads.
- Hold the glass by the stem and view it against a clear background. Gently swirl the wine inside the glass so that you can see the color of the wine. White wines are rarely white and you will normally see colors that range from light yellows to greens and even browns. White wines acquire more color with age and it also indicated better taste. For reds, though, the deeper the color, the younger is the wine. Reds usually become paler or lighter with age.
- Hold the wine glass just under your nose and gently swirl the wine around in the glass. The swirling action releases the aroma of the wine and you can smell the bouquet. Tasters use one of two techniques for detecting aroma in wines. In the first case, they will typically take one quick whiff of the bouquet and then hold the glass away. This allows them to grasp the initial aroma of the wine. The glass is then again brought to the nose and the taster makes a deeper inhalation absorbing all the related subtler aromas that are a part of the wine. The other technique involves one single deep whiff to soak up all the bouquet of the wine. Always make it a point to take a few seconds or a minute or two to absorb and understand the aroma of the wine. Do not immediately get into tasting the wine - enjoy the bouquet first and form your views on the character of the wine.
- The next step is the actual tasting of the wine. Most wine tasters will first take a small sip of the wine. This will introduce the wine to your palate and your taste buds will get their first exposure to the specific taste of the wine. Next, you must take a deeper swig and also roll the wine around in your mouth along with some air drawn in. Remember that the taste buds are located all along the tongue and you need to make the wine reach all corners of your palate. This step will reveal the subtler flavors within the wine and awaken your taste buds to more aspects like the body of the wine. Is it 'light' or is it 'heavier'. Allow enough time to retain the aftertaste of the wine and do not immediately rinse out your mouth. Recall the aftertaste and its feeling, was it dry or moist, did it have an overall flavor that leaves a distinct impression behind?
Some Wine Tasting Dos and Don'ts
- At a wine tasting event, women and older guests are usually served first, followed by the men and lastly the host.
- Accommodate a reasonable number of guests around the table and try and avoid creating a crowd with everyone jostling elbows for a toast!
- Provide some water for those guests that may want to have a little water between wines, or simply to rinse their mouth.
- Arrange for appropriate light foods like unsalted crackers and unflavored French breads for palate cleansing between tasting sessions. Any strong foods should ideally only be served after the tasting is over.