If you’ve splashed out on a special bottle of wine, it makes sense you’ll want to get the most enjoyment from it, right?
Naturally, you’ll reach for your favourite glass. It may not be the finest crystal or what’s been dubbed the sommelier’s favourite, but that’s not the point.
And what’s likely to make you even happier is knowing how to appreciate the wine you’ve just poured into it.
So, if you’re not quite sure what to do, here the five basic stages of wine tasting and why you should do each one. Just make sure the glass is clear and clean!
Pour your wine into the glass and take a good look. Tilt the glass and hold it against a white background or in natural daylight to appreciate the colour. The reason we do this is firstly, to enjoy the colour, and secondly, to see the intensity.
A white wine the colour of straw usually indicates it’s had some ageing or oak influence. A pale white has usually been aged in stainless steel. While deep inky reds usually have good tannin structure, and paler reds a higher acidity.
Give the wine a good swirl and take a small sniff. Swirl again to release the aromas and inhale slowly to assess the wine’s aromas, which are a good indication as to how the wine will taste. They’ll also give you a clue as to whether you’re going to like it.
The more familiar you become with a wine’s aromatics, the more you’ll be able to identify it in a blind tasting, like the pros do. And if you smell something musty or unpleasant, you’ll know the wine is corked.
Here comes the best bit. Don’t be timid: Take a medium sized sip so you can flood the palate, and then take a little air through your mouth to separate the aromas from the wine and really appreciate the fruit before swallowing.
Swirl the glass again, take another smell, sip and repeat the process to really get to know the wine. Along with tasting with your tongue, the nose is just as sensitive.
Some wines are immediately bold and upfront while others are shy and need a little time to evolve. Think about the sweetness; is it medium or dry? The acidity; is it mouth watering? The tannin structure; is it velvety smooth or firm with a hint of saddle leather? The body; is it full or light? Is it complex?
Wine professionals love to use this word ‘complex’ to describe a wine, that’s well, difficult to describe, with lots of different flavours and aromas. How does it end – is there a smoky tail on the finish? All these thoughts come into play when you’re making a tasting note and thinking about the structure of the wine.
Nobody wants to waste a good wine, so unless you’re at a wine tasting and going through dozens of bottles, savour every sip. Chances are, if it’s a wine you really love, it’ll be gone before you’ve had a chance to read the back of the label and check the winemaker’s note. If there is one. Cheers!
- Press Association