All About Wine Tasting

Wine tasting has been around for a long time. In recent years, it has acquired an unusually widespread appreciation as a recreational activity. Once a high-brow pastime as well as a necessary segment in the wine making process, wine tasting is now available to people from all walks of life.

Glass of WineWhat Is Wine Tasting?

This activity can be described as the sensory evaluation of wine. The purpose is not so much to enjoy wine but to examine its qualities. There is actually a formal method associated with this activity, which has been in development since the 14th century.

Wine production is a serious endeavor involving billions of dollars in the modern global economy. Therefore, tasting wine to ensure it has acquired the desired properties is a necessary step in the procedures that lead to marketing this product.

However, alongside this professional technique there has always existed a more informal and recreational approach to wine tasting. The processes are less analytical and are intended to help people simply acquire familiarity with different wines. You can often find wine tasting events happening in any major city. Wine tasting opportunities also draw tourists to places such as Napa Valley and other regional wine centers of the world.

Professional wine tasting will frequently rely purely on the wines involved in the tasting. Recreational versions of wine tasting may include other, foods such as cheese. If you seek out such a recreational opportunity in tasting wine, it would be helpful to know some of the basics involved in order to increase your appreciation of the activity and the wines tasted.

Tasting WineHow to Taste Wines

The key thing to remember about wine tasting is the involvement of the sense of smell as well as the sense of taste. Your tongue can only sense four different tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

Your nose, however, is able to detect many different aromas. Only by working together, can your tongue and nose perceive and appreciate the variety of wine tastes.

  • Begin the wine-tasting process by observing the color and clarity of the wine. If you are a little new to wine, you may accidentally fill the glass. This is not necessary even when you are drinking wine. When it comes to wine tasting, you are only going to fill the glass to about one-third with any wine that you are going to try.

Now look at the glass straight on. Tilt the wine glass away from you. How would you characterize the color of this wine? Toward the center of the wine’s mass it will naturally be dark, so look closely at the color near the edge as the wine approaches it with each tilt.

You will have to familiarize yourself with hues and shades because red is not an adequate description of a red wine’s color. Is the shade closer to maroon, purple, brick or something else? White wines may take on golden or greenish hues.

PartyIf you are doing this for more than purely recreational purposes, make note of what you see. There are not necessarily wrong or right answers that affect the wine’s quality. Color is merely one characteristic that you use in evaluating wines.

  • Go beyond color with the next step. Now you are going to look at the opacity of the wine. How translucent or opaque is this wine? Some wines seem brilliant while others are quite cloudy. Sediment may or may not be visible.

If a red wine is older, it may display outlying orange tinges. Older white wines darken in comparison to younger wines of the same grape varietal.

  • You have looked at the wine. Now approach it but do not taste it. Resist that impulse. Swirl the glass for about ten seconds before bringing your nose in closer. Inhale briefly. You will get your first acquaintance with the aroma of this wine. Do not interrupt this moment with an analysis. Continue on to the next stage of this encounter.

Literally, put your nose into the glass. Inhale deeply. What do you smell? Is there a scent of flowers, vanilla, fruit? Some wines smell of the oak in which they were originally barreled. Draw out this moment. Swirl the glass again and sniff it all over again.

  • Now comes what you have been waiting for. Take a taste of the wine. This should be just a sip. Do not swallow it immediately. Roll the fluid around in your mouth. This step is complex and should not be hurried.

The wine will make an initial impression on your palate that can be divided into four parts: alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and residual sugar. The four parts may be well balanced with each other but a particular aspect of the wine may stand out. Often, this is considered negative because a wine should make a more general impression on your palate. This is known as the attack phase of the tasting.

  • Now begins the evolution phase of the taste test. You move beyond the analysis of the elements described above and now consider the impact and taste of the wine on your palate. You may notice some fruity taste.

CinnamonWith a red wine, it may more likely be the faint taste of berries or plums. Some red wines will have the flavor of spices such as cinnamon or cloves. Others may taste woody or even remind you of the scent of smoke.

White wines also taste of fruits frequently. In these wines, the underlying fruit taste will more likely be that if apples, citrus or tropical fruits. If a fruit taste is not present, the white wine may remind you of flowers, honey or even have an earthy taste.

  • In the final phase of the tasting, you swallow the contents of your mouth. Your immediate concern is how long the flavor of the wine leaves an impression after this event. The taste and impression of the wine may last for several seconds or be almost instantly forgotten.

You will have a physical impression of the wine as it goes down. It may be as light as water, have more body like milk or have en even thicker consistency. Elements of the taste may remain in your mouth. Ask yourself if you want another sip or if there was a slight recoil at an acrid aftertaste.

Now you can take some more time to write down some of your impressions since engaging the wine glass with nose and palate. Most important is simply whether you liked the wine or not. In addition, each wine will have a dominating taste, such as sweet, sour or something else. Record this. Use the four elements addressed in the attack phase and point out if any of them was predominant.

You can repeat the taste test with each wine using bread or cheese. You may like it so much that you want to advance to the next stage and try the wine with a full meal. You can spend an evening trying various wines this way.

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