Time to wrap up our series on exploring wine – We are now at the best part!
We have viewed the wine, smelled it and finally the payoff, tasting it. Sounds easy, and it is, but there are certain methods used to get the best, most informative tasting. Start by swirling the wine in the glass to wake up the wine, giving it some air. Wine is a “living” thing and it needs to breathe.
Some sip, or slurp but to really explore the wine, many say to taste the wine, in three small sips. The third sip is the real taste of the wine. The first two prep your mouth for the experience. When you taste wine, you are tasting not only the flavors but also the structure. Basically, we are using our tongues to feel the wine. Words to describe feel may be silky, velvety, or thin in feel? We detect tannins just by putting it on our tongue. Do you feel a slight pull on the sides of your tongue or towards your throat? That’s tannin, the more you feel, you would say the wine has firm tannins, the less you feel soft tannins.
All wine has a beginning, a middle and an end, its structure. Some will be more defined than others. As for taste it can and most often does change throughout the process. Our tongues pick up flavors too. Is it salty, sour, sweet or tart? Think about the different aspects of taste – start to try and pick out flavors in the wine, dark fruit, berries, vanilla, citrus or honey – the lists goes on and on.
Does the flavor of the wine linger even after you swallow it or does it end abruptly? That’s the finish. How long is the finish?
There is a lot to explore with wine, but in the end, decide if you liked the wine? Did it make an impression? Was it unique or average? The more wines you try the better frame of reference you will have as to what type, region and style of wine you actually like. Make sure you take notes while tasting, you will learn what flavors, textures and smells appeal most to you.
Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com) has been a great resource for both this article and general information – check it out. The more tastings you do the faster you learn. Stop by Vintner’s Hill and try a wine flight or two. My favorite way to taste wines is with friends and a few shareables.