Wine Tasting and Education
Wine Tasting is a popular hobby, getting to know your wine can be a fun experience, as the best way to learn about wine is by tasting it.
Wine tasting holidays are ideal, but wine tasting events as day trips into the wine regions are also great for learning about wines.
Now if you are new to wine you need not be worried or intimidated by wine tasting. It is true that wine tasting is an art, and as such subjective by nature, but by following a few guidelines you can learn as you experience a variety of wonderful wines and soon be a wine master in your own right.
General wine tasting guidelines
Look. Hold the glass up against the light or a white wall. Take note of the wine’s clarity and the richness of colour. Generally, the more colour a white wine has, the more flavour it has. A rich colour in a white wine can also indicate maturity.
Red wines can vary in colour too, from a light cherry colour to a brownish mahogany colour. Purple is generally an indicator of a young wine, while older vintages tend to have more orange or brown in the colour. When looking at an older red wine, it usually appears lighter at the rim of the glass and deeper in the centre. (See Wine Facts)
Developing the skill of wine tasting takes practice. The more wines you taste, the better you will become with this entire sensory process.
Smell: Swirl the wine gently in the glass to release the aroma of the wine, then put your nose into the glass and smell the wine. Think about the aroma (otherwise known as the nose).
If the aroma is more intense it could be an indicator that the grapes originate from a warmer climate, with higher sugar and alcohol levels. Different styles of wine will be marked by fruity, herbal, wood, floral or spice scents. Spice can indicate maturity, while fruit can indicate youth.
After smelling the wine it is time to take a sip.
Wine tasting: Take it into your mouth and roll it over your tongue for several seconds before swallowing a little of it, spitting the rest into the spittoon. Exhale through your nose as you swallow. Your taste buds and sense of smell will work together.
Is the wine sweet, dry or off dry? This you taste on the tip of your tongue. On the sides of your tongue you will pick up the acidity of the wine. It tastes like citrus and is a stronger feature in white wines. The trick for the winemaker is to balance acidity with sweetness.
On the back of the tongue you will taste the tannin, like a strong and bitter tea taste. This is a taste derived from the skins of the grapes and from aging the wine in oak barrels, mainly found in red wines. (See How Wine is Made)
Different cultivars have distinctive tastes, which can be learnt through the experience of tasting. Try to remember the taste and aroma of different cultivars and compare them as you go along.
Wine tasting can be great fun, and is an excellent way to shop for wine, as you know exactly what you will be buying, be it a light summer wine for lunches or a warming red for a winter night snug by the fire.