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How to Taste Wine
The strange ritual of swirling, slurping, sniffing and spitting out of wine that tasters go through is not a worthless snobby activity. It is the best way to release the aromas and tastes into your mouth and nose.
‘Wine tasting’ should really be called ‘wine testing’ for it predominantly involves smelling the wine.
There are 3 stages to tasting wine:
After you you have read this page then you may like to learn more about wine tasting - here are some books/ wine tasting kits that I can recommend:
Learn-It Wine Tasting Gift Box: 10 bite-sized lessons teach you everything you need to know about wine. At the end get a genuine level 2 NVQ qualification.
Host Your Own Wine Tasting : A party pack that includes everything you need for a fun filled evening of Wine tasting.
How to Taste : A wine tasting course based around practical exercises that will guide you from your first sips to confident, well-informed gulps.
Or if you would like to see the real thing then how about a vineyard tour?
English Vineyard Tour and Tasting Gift Experience for 2 : Guided tour of an award winning English Vineyard and orchard. Personal tasting of wines, juice and cider.
Pour out a third of a glass of wine into a clear glass. Tinted glasses are not suitable as you will be unable to judge the wine’s colour correctly.
In the past wine was examined for clarity. This is not the case these days as wine-making technology has improved considerably and the chances of you encountering a cloudy wine are vary rare.
Tilt your glass away from you and look at the colour against a white background (a white napkin, tablecloth or sheet of paper). Notice how dark or pale the wine is, notice what colour it is. As you examine more wines you will begin to notice differences.
You should note that as white wines age they become darker turning a rich, golden amber. Red wines gradually lose their color turning browner, often with a small amount of dark red sediment in the bottom of the bottle or glass.
Swirl the wine around the glass and observe the oily droplets of wine that flow slowly down the inside of the glass. These droplets are referred to as the ‘legs’ or ‘tears’. In the past these legs were believed to indicate a high quality wine but today no conclusions are to be drawn from them.
For sparkling wines examine the size of the bubbles, referred to as the ‘bead’. Champagne has smaller bubbles (a finer bead) than other sparkling wine.
With your glass on the table rotate it to swirl the wine up onto the side of the glass. This increases the surface area of wine allowing some of it to mix with air to release aromas.
Warning: don’t swirl the wine if your glass is more than half full or else you will have it all over the table!
Firstly you must realise that little of the flavour that can be sensed actually involves your tongue – your nose does most of the work.
Your tongue can identify four basic primary tastes – sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and sourness. These tastes are detected by different parts of the tongue. Sweetness is manly registered on the front of the tongue, sourness mainly on the sides and bitterness across the rear. Saltiness is not a taste associated with wine.
Take a sip of the wine and hold it inside your mouth.
The first taste to register will be the sweetness as the wine hits the front of your tongue. The next will be the sourness, or acidity in wine terms as the wine hits the sides of your tongue. The final taste will the bitterness, due to the tannins, at the back of your tongue.
Next purse your lips together and suck some air in across the wine. Swish the wine around your mouth like you are chewing it. Feel the wine, is it light, heavy, rough, smooth etc? Now try and describe the aromas that your nose detects (see the list above for common terms that are used).
Finally swallow the wine (or spit it out).