You may currently possess the opinion that wine is simply another alcoholic beverage that you either like or dislike. Alternatively, you might have a preference for rosé and a lack of appreciation for white. Wherever you stand with wine, it can help to learn the basics of wine tasting so that you can learn to organise all the specific brands from best to worst.
Wine is probably the drink you’ll be served at weddings, restaurants and other formal gatherings, so having these wine tasting techniques onboard can give you the chance to analyse and record your favourite wines for the future. To improve on your knowledge (rather than waiting to follow the lead of someone else on the table) you could always enrol for wine courses to improve your own know-how or alternatively, here’s a step-by-step guide to wine tasting that tells you everything you need to know about telling the difference between wines and identifying your preferred brands.
The first thing to do is to pour your chosen wine into a wine glass. Take a good look at the wine and check its colour. You’re looking at how consistent the colour is from the centre to the edges. This process can be made much easier if you use a plain background, such as a white wall. If it’s an older red wine, pour into a decanter to expose as much of the wine as possible to the air – letting it breathe in this way gives it a little of a wake-up call and brings out the aromas and tastes that have been hidden away in the bottle for so long.
Whilst it might seem like red, white and rosé each have a particular colour, you should try and look beyond this. For example, white wine might be pale, golden or even green in places, whilst red wine can be purple or even brownish at times. Colour can determine all sorts of things, including the age of the wine. For example, a darker tint tends to point towards an older bottle of white wine.
The next thing to do is to check the aroma of the wine. This is where the wine swirling comes into play. If you haven’t already done so, swirl the wine round in your glass for a bit so that the natural aromas become more apparent. Get as close to the liquid as possible for a thorough inhalation of the aroma. From this point on you can start thinking about what it is you’re detecting and whether there are any recognisable flavours apparent from the aroma.
The final stage of wine tasting is the taste itself. Take a small sip of the wine and let the attack flavour set in. When tasting wine there are three different stages you’ll go through; the attack stage, the development stage and the end stage. Once you take your first sip, you’ll be focusing on the attack stage. The attack comprises of a variety of different aspects, including the alcohol content, the acidity and the sugar levels. It’s all about detecting whether or not there’s a good balance between the various aspects.
As the flavour evolves and develops, you might start to notice some of the distinct flavours associated with the wine. This could be anything from tropical fruits and berries to spices, pepper and possibly even oak trees. Depending on the type of wine you’ve chosen to trial, red and white can produce a variety of different evolving flavours. Many people base their opinions of wine on this stage as this is where the distinct flavours become apparent.
The final part of wine tasting is the finishing touch. As you swallow the wine, take note of how long the flavours are present before analysing any particular aftertaste. Some wines produce less appealing aftertastes which can potentially put you off the wine entirely, whilst some work incredibly well alongside meals and create entirely unique methods of tasting food. Ultimately, you should look to experiment and have fun with all the different wines you come across, as there are countless flavours to experience amongst a never-ending appetite for wine manufacturing.
About the author:
FoodBlogs UK wish to thank Mike James for this great article explaining the basics of wine tasting. He is an amateur wine enthusiast who regularly enjoys hosting wine tasting parties, the ultimate way to enjoy life’s little pleasures of drinking with friends whilst learning to appreciate new wines as you do. He writes about his experiences on behalf of The Wine Teacher, a family run business based in Sussex offering wine courses, consultancy and tasting parties to businesses and individuals.
Want more wine? Read about another author’s blog post – Napa Valley Wine Experience