We Know: How to Do A Wine Tasting

About Wine Tasting

Wine tasting is as much a ritual as it is a method for choosing an enjoyable wine. Veteran wine tasters recognize the importance of following certain rules and taking precautions in order to assure the accurate evaluation of a wine. Wine tasting can be fun for any participant, with the reward being a carefully and well-chosen bottle of wine. A wine store or vineyard may host a wine tasting on a regular basis, but you can also hold a wine tasting in your own home.

The palate is more sensitive to taste than most people realize. For this reason, food can affect the perceived taste of a wine, and individual foods can affect the taste differently. Even the leftover taste of a previous wine can affect the taste of the next wine. Some eat plain French bread or unsalted water crackers to cleanse their palate between wines. Bottled water should be available during the wine tasting.

Wine Tasting Steps

If you're doing this at home, or tasting several types of wines, you may wish to take notes as you go through the steps (remember not to pour too much into the glass):

  1. Wine color: Hold the glass in front of a white background such as a tablecloth or napkin. This makes it easier to see the true color which may reveal the age and health of the wine. White wines aren't actually white, and the more color it has the more flavor it may contain. If it appears brownish, it may have expired. Red wines last longer than white wines and some people believe reds are better with time. Red wines often lighten over time.
  2. Swirl to inspect the legs: Gently swirl the wine in the glass. Just as the amount of milk trace left on the side of a container depends on whether it's low fat, regular, or fat free (which doesn't leave a trace), the same is true of wine though it's not dependent on fat content. The wine trace or drips that form are called legs and the amount or thickness of the legs is dependent on the alcohol content. A high alcohol content has stronger, more pronounced legs. Generally speaking, the stronger the legs, the less delicate or sweet the taste is.
  3. Aroma: Swirling aerates and unlocks the wine's scent. The aroma is also known as the nose or bouquet. Some prefer to take one big whiff, others take smaller whiffs and form an impression that way. It may smell fruity, it may smell like oak, or it could have another association for you.
  4. Taste: Take a sip but don't swallow for awhile. As with the scent, you want to absorb the impression of the wine's taste. Hit all the taste buds by gently moving it around in your mouth. Try to develop a first impression, a general taste, and then an aftertaste. Is it acidic, sweet, bitter?
  5. Body: The overall affect of the wine in your mouth. Did it explode or did it make no impression at all?
  6. The finish line: What sort of impression did the wine leave afterward? Did you experience an unpleasant aftertaste, or did it leave you wanting more?

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