Learn how to taste Wines in 3 simple steps!
Drinking a glass of wine is a time of pure pleasure, and always an enriching experience, even if you are alone.....
Step One: See
Pour a small, but significant amount of wine into the glass. Now tilt the glass at approximately 45° and look at it against a white background; identify the colour, analyse clarity, inspect the distribution of colour intensity, and look out for unctuosity inside the glass after smooth swirling (the so-called wine tears).
Colour can help us determine not only the variety of grapes used, but also if the wine is heavy or light. Usually, heavy wines will have a more intense colouring and produce wine tears inside the glass. Moreover, if the colour is too concentrated in the centre, we are in the presence of a closed wine, that still needs time to develop its flavours. On the other hand, if there is a clear distribution of colour intensity, with the formation of an outside ring, we are in the presence of an open wine, ready to be enjoyed.
Still regarding colour, as a rule of thumb, but not exclusively like this, red wines will appear with tonalities ranging from ruby to a bluish violet; white wines ranging from pale straw to deep yellow; rosé wines ranging from pale salmon to magenta. With ageing, the wines will tend to lose their primary colouring with red wines turning brownish and white wines turning goldish.
Step two: Smell
Without any agitation, feel the aromas - these are called the primary aromas of a wine and are extremely volatile. Afterwards, moderately swirl the glass - this will help the wine to aerate, releasing the secondary aromas. Finally, firmly swirl the glass - this will release the tertiary aromas, which are only present in high quality wines, resulting from the evolution of the wine during its maturation.
Wines can be classified regarding their aroma concentration and complexity. As a rule of thumb, the more concentrated and complex the wine is, with a distinct and varied bouquet of aromas, the more quality the wine possesses.
Third step: Savour
It is now time to savor your glass of wine! Take a small sip from your glass and move it around your mouth, providing as much contact with the tongue's surface as possible. With the wine on top of your tongue, pucker your lips and slurp in a small amount of air, helping in the aeration of the wine, and thus in releasing its aromas. Subsequently, take a deep breath through your nose, pushing the aromas to the olfactory bulb, thus maximizing the experience.
You can categorize your wine by its complex taste and its sense of touch. Complex taste being the combination of the palate or taste per se, mouth aromas and chemical sensations. You will be able to taste sweet, salty, acidity and bitter. It is the perfect harmony of these four sensations that will determine if your wine is balanced. The aromas will be categorized in the same way as in Step 2, and by their aromatic intensity, which corresponds to the duration that the aromas persist in the mouth after swallowing or spitting the wine. When the aromatic intensity is high, we have a long finish wine. On top of this, we have the chemical sensations, this is, astringency, the sense of dryness, causticity, the perception of alcohol content, and effervescence.
Regarding the touch of the wine, we can define it by tactile sensitivity and thermic sensitivity. In the latter, wine should almost always have a cold sensation (since its recommended ingestion temperatures are well below body temperature). The tactile sensitivity is the commonly defined body of a wine. This means the sensation the wine produces in the mouth, and particularly in the tongue. As a rule of thumb, heavier wines will have a higher protein and tannic content, producing a filling sensation in the mouth, these will be called full-bodied and will have good tongue length. By contrast, wines with low protein and tannic content will be called light-bodied and will produce a small tongue length.
We have given you a small, quick guide into tasting wine, but there is much, much more to be said....so much so that did you know that wine tasting is often presented as an art or science? Some people specialize in wine tasting. Indeed, it is truly a magnificent experience.