Wednesday, October 30, 2019
The Art of Tasting 101
Every time I teach people how to taste, I always tell them tasting wine as a wine professional will change their wine experience completely. Mostly, because there is a big difference between just sipping wine and conducting a proper tasting. So, this post is for those who want to learn how to taste wine properly, I know this is something I should have done at the beginning (in my early posts), Sorry for the delay!
The first step in every tasting is to find an ideal room, a room without any aromas, yes leave the perfume behind, if you plan to taste wine professionally! Good natural light is ideal but if this is not possible then good artificial light will do and a white background to check the wines against it, so you can detect the different colors of each variety, and other details that will allow you to tell if a wine is young or old from its color.
The first sense we used in wine tasting is Sight. As a rule reds will have vibrant colors when young and lose their colors as they age, so ruby red or purple when young and brick, tawny, pale garnet when old. Also important is to check the rim, if it’s watery we are dealing with a young wine, when it is orange with a wine with some age. In the case of the whites, the rules change, young whites will have lighter colors, the rims will be still watery though, and older whites usually will have darker/ golden colors. This is also true for whites that are aged or fermented in oak. Swirl the wine in the glass and check the wine drops, are these drops (called legs) thick or thin? Thick legs means alcohol is present in the wine as is glycerol. Remember the denser the legs, the more alcohol and usually the more body in our wine. With practice, you will differentiate the different colors of each variety, for example Riesling has the lightest color of all whites, Sauvignon Blanc usually has a green tinge, while Chardonnay has a straw yellow color and with oak a golden color. In the case of reds, Pinot Noir has the palest red, it’s very easy to recognize in a blind tasting, while Shiraz will have the darkest color, usually deep ruby with purple hints.
Now to the second sense and most important in a wine tasting: Smell, aerate the wine, meaning swirl it once more and smell it, has the wine a strong aroma or weak/ almost mute? Besides the intensity, does it smell fresh, young, or developed? fruity, floral? after reading this post, you can look online the aroma wheel to learn a few of the aromas that the University of Davis has found in wines here. Or does it smell more herbaceous, mineral, less fruity? What about faults? Does the wine smell good, i.e healthy or is it oxidized, corked, present funky smells of vinegar, onions, rotten eggs?...if that happens your wine is no good, time to call the waiter and ask for an exchange. Learn about wine faults here.
Now, let’s go to step 3: Taste, this is the best part! let’s have a sip, take a bit of the wine and before swallowing, move it around your mouth and cover all sides of your tongue, like you do with mouthwash, then swallow or spit it,like most wine tasters do, not to make a fool of ourselves in a public tasting! Remember, sweetness is detected on the tip of your tongue, acidity to the sides, tannins on the gums and back of your throat, body/weight in your middle palate.
Now it's time to analyze the different elements, how is the fruit on the palate, how is the acidity, how are the tannins, and the alcohol? How is the body, light, medium, full? after you swallow, how is the length? does the wine disappear or does it stay with you and for how long? A long finish is a sign of a good quality wine.
Finally, it's time to make a conclusion, thumbs up or down? Is it worthwhile to spend money on this wine or do we need to move on?
Here are some recommendations, so that you can become an expert in no time.
Dr Hermann Wines Riesling Kabinett Urziger Wurzgarten 2017 $22
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2017, California $19
A to Z Pinot Noir 2017, Oregon $15
Château Sansonnet St Emilion 2017, $33
San Martino Siir, Aglianico del Vulture 2016 $16