The Basics of Wine Tasting

Do you know that wine tasting is more than just gulping down your wine? Wine tasting is an art, and it involves going through certain steps to let you better understand the complexities of each glass of wine offered to you. These steps may be classified into five basic activities and observations:

1. Color

One good way to observe the wine color is by holding your glass of wine upon a white background. Color ranges depending on whether you are tasting a red or a white wine. Color is an important consideration in wine tasting because it helps identify the age of the wine. White wine gains in color as it age while red wine loses its color. Other factors can also affect the color of the wine such as the variety of grapes used, how the wine is aged, and if the wine is unfiltered or not.

For white wine, color can change from pale yellow green to brown as it ages. For red wine, color changes from purple then to red and brown.

2. Swirling

Swirling is also an essential part of wine tasting. It aerates the wine to give you a better look at its overall appearance and also allows you to better smell the wine. When swirling, carefully observe the color as well as how the “legs” trickle the inside of the glass after the swirling has stopped. It is said that if the wine has more noticeable legs, it has a fuller body and has a stronger taste.

3. Smelling

Smelling is perhaps the most important component of wine tasting. It is said that an average person is able to smell more than 2,000 different scents. On the average, wine has more than 200 different scents. After swirling, smell the wine for three times. Think about the kind of smell it has. At third smell, you should be able to know the kind of “nose” the wine has. Nose is a term used by wine tasters to describe the aroma and bouquet of the wine.

Smelling also helps you identify certain components in the wine such as the variety of grapes used. When tasting white wine, it would help you if you are familiar with the major varieties of grapes used to produce this kind of wine. They are the Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Blanc. For red wine, common varieties include Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Smelling also helps you identify certain defects in wine. Normally, wine with traces of vinegar, sherry, dank or musty smell and sulfur has particular defects or overuse of certain substances.

4. Tasting

In tasting, you can normally perceive sour, sweet and bitterness. Different tastes can be found in various parts of the tongue. Sweet taste can be found at the tip of the tongue. The varietal characteristics of grapes as well as the tannin can be tasted at the middle of the tongue while the acidity can be tasted at the sides. To have the best tasting experience, try to sip a wine and then draw a little air inside your mouth to further aerate the wine and bring out its flavors.

5. Savoring

After tasting the wine, put your glass and relax for a while to savor the taste. Think about your overall experience and impressions of the wine you just tasted. Think about if the wine is full or light bodied, if it is acidic or not, or if the tannin is too strong. Also think about the best food you would enjoy eating with your wine. And finally, decide if it is your kind of wine or not.

The next time you drink wine, consider these steps to better appreciate the wine you are drinking.

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