Wine tasting may seem (to some) to be a laborious task, but knowing the basics can help you understand what goes on in that glass.
The first and most important thing about wine tasting is the glass. If you don’t believe me, pour the same wine into both a tumbler and a wine glass and taste the difference. Air, believe it or not, is a major contributing factor when it comes to taste.
But what is all that swirling, sniffing and spitting that happens after the wine is poured?
Here it is – the main aspects of wine tasting are explained in a few concise sentences.
The Look: As any connoisseur will tell you, a wine’s colour is very important, but I’m not talking red, white or blush; I’m talking different hues. Tilt your wine glass away from you and check the colour of the wine in the middle of the glass (having a white background helps). If it’s white, is it clear, straw-like, pale yellow, light green, golden, brown or amber? If it’s red, is it ruby, garnet, purple, maroon, brick or brownish?
Why? This helps you determine whether the wine has any sediment in it; whether the wine is corked or not and it can help you determine its age. (Hint: older red wines normally have orange tinges along the edges while older white wines are a darker shade than younger wines of the same grape variety).
The Smell: Swirl your glass for 10 seconds to vaporise some of the wine’s alcohol and sniff the glass. Then, stick your nose into the glass to get the full blast. Does it smell of oak, berry, citrus, flowers?
Why? This will help boost its taste.
The Taste: Take a small sip and roll it around in your mouth. The first phase, called the ‘Attack Phase’ helps you determine the alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and residual sugar. The ‘Evolution Phase’ gives you its real flavour and most of the time, the initial taste changes during this process. The ‘Finish’ happens once the wine is either spat out or swallowed, and what you need to take note of is how long the after-taste lingers.
Why? When a wine’s not good, you will automatically taste it. This step also helps you determine whether the wine you’re having would taste better with cheese, meat, fish, sweets, etc.
So… there it is! The science behind wine tasting in a nutshell!
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