Tasting wine for the first time can be intimidating. When do you sip? How do you hold the glass and what do you say? All these questions will run through your mind and take away the confidence and the fun in tasting wine. Wine is a product to be enjoyed, and that is the bottom-line, whether we can describe the notes or keep up with the snobby wine lingo we should remember to have fun. Wine tasting requires one to have a good wine memory, this means that as a beginner it is best to spend time training your senses. It is recommended that you taste different wines and know each wine’s characteristics, familiarize yourself with different scents/smells such as fruits, flowers, spices and the environment. Once you get used to tasting wine, you will soon develop your own strategy on wine tatsing and get used to using the descriptive words. Use the technique outlined in this blog when tasting wine, remember to have fun and enjoy the wine.
Step 1 : See
The first is to look at the wine, evaluate and comment on the appearance of the wine. What do you see? What color is the wine? Do you see any droplets/ tears on the sides of the glass? How would you describe them? Do you like the tears?
What is the color of the wine? Do you think the wine is bright or dull? What is the intensity of the color?
Note: The color of the wine is an indication of age or youth. Younger red wines are purple or deep red while older wines are brown or brick red in color.
You can tell a lot by the color of wine such as the grape variety, age , climate, winemaking technique etc.
Step 2: Swirl
This step allows the aromas in the glass to evaporate, making it pleasurable for you to nose the wine and discover the aromas of the wine.
Step 3: Sniff
The next step is to smell your wine, put your nose deep inside the glass and smell the wine. It is advisable to nose your wine with your mouth open rather than closed as it helps with the flow of aromas. Ask yourself what does the wine smell like? Does it smell like anything you can remember ? Any smell of fruits, flowers, grass, wood or even spices? How intense is the smell, is it very subtle or forthcoming ? The intensity of the smell often hints a good quality wine or just simply an aromatic grape variety. It is also important to note any off smell, this could be linked to potential wine fault.
Step 4 : Sip
The last step is to taste the wine, take a huge sip of the wine. Make sure the wine coats your entire tongue in order for you to experience all the elements of the wine. Does the wine taste dry or sweet? How is the acidity of the wine, would you say is low, medium or high? How is the tannin level, is it high, medium or low ? How is the body of the wine, is it light, medium or full-bodied? What flavors do you taste, are they the same as the flavors on the nose or different? Once you have swallowed the wine, how long is the aftertaste, does it linger or disappear instantly?
Note: As you taste more wine and develop a technique that works for you. You will be learning more about the other elements of tasting wine and be able to judge wine by just tasting it. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes you to perfect the skill but it is important to remember the steps and try to take out as much information as possible from the glass of wine.