We’ve all heard professional wine connoisseurs taste wine like a pro and comment with words like “intense colour,” “hints of spice, and a luscious cherry taste on the tongue,” etc. It can be truly daunting to understand what they are talking about, if you don’t know how to taste wine!
But, contrary to popular belief, expanding your wine vocabulary is not as difficult as it appears. It simply takes practice. The good news is that practice entails drinking wine!
The greatest way to expand your wine knowledge is to understand how to properly approach wine tasting. This will help you develop your taste and wine repertory, allowing you to offer educated recommendations to visitors and demonstrate your stellar serving talents.
How to taste wine? Look at it first!
Examine the colour and clarity. Pour a glass of wine into an appropriate wine glass. Then examine the wine carefully.
What shade is it? Consider colours other than red, white, and pink. Is the hue of the red wine maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick, or even brownish? Is the look of the white wine clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber, or brown?
Next, consider the wine’s opacity. Is the wine clear or hazy, watery or black, transparent or opaque, bland or brilliant? Is there any sediment visible? When comparing the same varietal at various ages, older white wines are darker than younger white wines.
How to taste wine? You need to smell it too.
Then, with your nose directly over the rim of the wine glass, inhale deeply. This is significant since the majority of a wine’s allure is in its aroma rather than its taste. Most wines have the scents of the grapes from which they are created, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and so on. The more familiar you become with various wine varietals, the simpler it will be to notice and distinguish distinctive wine scents and fragrance.
To begin, your nose will tell you if the wine appeals to you, and you may detect notes of vanilla, cherries, peaches, or even grassy or smoky smells. Every wine is unique, which is part of the joy of wine appreciation.
Then, finally taste it.
It’s now time to take a sip. A sip that fills your mouth halfway, not a gulp. Allow the wine to travel across your tongue from front to back and side to side before swallowing. Take note of as many feelings as you can.
Finally, does the wine have a “balanced” flavour, or does one component overshadow the others?
If you want to note any lingering “finish,” take a modest bit. However, if you are sampling several wines, such as at a vineyard tasting room, your host will normally provide a receptacle for you to spit out the wine rather than consume it.
Don’t forget to take notes!
After you’ve had a chance to sample the wine, you might want to write down some of your thoughts. Did you enjoy the wine as a whole? Was it sour, sweet, or bitter?
What was the wine’s acidity like? Was it properly balanced? Is it better with cheese, bread, or a hearty meal? Will you purchase it again? If so, write down the wine’s name, producer, and vintage year for future reference.
Now that you know where to start, you should put your skills to practice and in just a couple of years, you too, will be ready to tell others how to taste wine like a pro, erm… you!