Learn How to Taste Wine Like a Pro – Or at Least Bluff Your Way Through It
By Jane Mcgowan
Wine tasting is the art of evaluating wines. Learning how to properly taste wine will give you a greater appreciation for both the wine itself and the winemakers. When wine tasting you utilize the sensory of sight smell and taste. Wine tasters evaluate the look of the wine in the glass, the fragrance of the wine and the taste of the wine. There is also the “finish” of the wine or the aftertaste.
The art of wine tasting is as follows; color, swirl, smell, taste and savor. A wine taster must look for clarity. The wine taster is looking at the components of the wine to determine whether the wine is balanced. Another thing a taster looks for is the quality of the wine or the clarity of the flavor.
“The Look Of The Wine”
Here the wine taster is looking for the color and clarity of the wine. When distinguishing this it is always best to have a white background such as a piece of paper of cloth behind the glass. Tilt your poured glass of wine away from you and look for the color of the wine from the rim edge to the middle of the glass. If it’s a red wine determine if the color is red, brownish, purple, ruby, brick or maroon colored. With white wines you’re looking to see if it’s clear, greenish, yellow, golden, amber or brownish.
For clarity the wine taster is determining if the wine looks watery or dark. Is it opaque or translucent. Older red wines tend to be more translucent than younger red wines. Is the wine dull or brilliant, cloud or clear.
“The Smell Of The Wine”
The aroma of a wine is an indicator of both it’s quality and it’s unique characteristics. Smell is critical in analyzing a wine. The proper procedure in smelling a wine is to first gently swirl your glass of wine and then take a quick whiff to get a first impression. The swirling of the wine is important to vaporize the alcohol and release the wine’s natural aromas.
After your initial whiff, stick your nose down into the glass of wine and inhale through your nose. Does it smell citrusy, flowery, oaky, or like berries or flowers? This second impression smell is important.
“The Taste Of The Wine”
You’re finally ready to taste the wine. There are three phases to the tasting process. There is the attack phase, the evolution phase, and as we mentioned earlier the finish phase.
In tasting you want to first start with a small sip and let the wine roll on your tongue. What is your initial impression of the wine? This is the attack phase and it involves the acidity, alcohol content, tannin levels and residual sugar. Ideally these four items will meld together so that one is not more intense than the other. In this attack phase you’ll get impressions of the intensity, whether the wine is light or heavy, whether it is soft or firm, dry or sweet, and creamy or crisp.
The evolution phase is what the wine’s actual taste is on your palate. Here you are determining the flavor profile of the wine. If it’s a white wine are you tasting apples, pears, or is it more floral in nature? Maybe it consists more of honey or a buttery taste. With red wines you’ll start noting fruits such as berry, plum, figs or prunes. Possibly the wine tastes peppery or cinamony or maybe has a woody flavor such as oak or cedar. In this phase you are defining more about the taste of the wine.
The finish phase is just as we said…the wine’s aftertaste phase. How long does the flavor of the wine last after you have swallowed it? Do you still taste the remnants of the wine in the back of your mouth? Is the taste persistent or short lived? Do you want another sip or was the wine itself too bitter at the end?
It’s always a good idea to take notes of your impressions of the wines you taste, especially if it’s a wine you’d like to buy again. Jot down the wine’s name, producer and vintage year for your own future reference and for use in hosting your own wine tasting parties and functions.
When wine tasting the order of the tasting should be with the sparkling wines, the light wines, and then the heavy whites and heavy reds. Heavy wines have a deep color to them while the sweeter wines are thick and generally leave streaks called “legs” on the side of the glass when it is swirled.
Wine tasters can taste several wines at one tasting. This being the case, the tasters do not actually drink the wines since they are alcohol. When tasting the wines the taster holds the wine in his mouth to get the flavor in his taste buds then wine tasters generally spit out the wine after testing. There are several wineries throughout the world where one can visit and taste different wines. Some wineries will charge a small fee to cover the cost of the tours.
Jane McGowan is a wine enthusiast. If you’d like to learn more about how to host a themed wine tasting party you can visit her website at – Types Of Wine Tastings [http://winetasting.janemcgowan.com/Types-Of-Wine-Tastings/Types-Of-Wine-Tastings.php] where she has lots of information on how to host a wine tasting party, types of wine tastings and where you can find in home wine tasting party kits and invitations. Wondering what temperatures to serve your wine at or which cheeses and foods to serve with which wines. There’s lots of detailed information on that too at Wine And Cheese Pairings [http://winetasting.janemcgowan.com/Wine-Cheese-Tasting-Party/Wine-Cheese-Tasting-Party.php] and How To Chill Wine.