Published on October 25th, 2013 | by thevyne0
Five Basic Tips for Wine Tasting
Have you ever swirled a glass wine because you knew that was the thing to do but you secretly had no clue why? Or perhaps you’ve sat across from someone else who was raving about the flavor of a wine only to taste it and have to choke back a “I think I just ate a lemon” look? Or better still maybe you’ve quietly wondered about the difference between the grapes and why there are different glasses for different wines? Wine culture can be daunting, but we’ve compiled a few basics bits tips to help answer some of those questions you may have had but were too embarrassed to ask:
1. Look at the Color and Viscosity – Roll the wine to the edge of the glass to see if the color stays deep from the middle of the glass to the edge, which sometime gives an indication of the quality of the wine. Also look to see how slowly the wine runs back down the glass when you tilt it. If it’s slow it’s said to have “legs” (and actually looks like lines running down the glass). If a wine has “legs” its believed to probably have higher alcohol content and to be more full bodied (have more flavor).
2. Smell the Wine – Swirl the wine around the glass a bit and sniff it. Purpose of this is to allow oxygen into the wine so that it opens up the aroma or bouquet of the wine for you to smell. Does it smell fragrant to you? What do you smell? Woodsy, fruity, spicey? Try to identify what you smell because it will impact how the wine tastes in your mouth.
3. Taste the Wine – Once you’re done swirling and smelling, taste the wine. Roll it around your tongue a bit and let it hit lots of taste buds. If it’s a red wine, sometimes it may have a bitter almost sour taste. What you taste is the tannins and it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad wine. It means that it’s a young wine. Tannins tend to be more pronounced in young wines and as the wine ages they mellow out and enhance the flavor of the wine. A young white wine may taste acidic. So when you buy a bottle that is young, you may want to let it age a bit longer before drinking it if you want the tannins to mellow. (Side Note: The stems and skins of grapes in the grape making process are often how tannins get introduced to the wine. They act as a preservative of sorts that allows red wines to age longer than white wines. So don’t hate on the tannins.)
4. Pick the Right Glass – This may seem like it doesn’t matter but the truth is, the shape of the glass can dramatically impact the taste of the wine. A larger “bowl” allows for the aromas to really open up. A long stem allows you to hold the glass without interfering with the temperature of the wine (e.g. holding the “bowl” of the glass transfers heat to the wine. No bueno.). Thin crystal glasses are expensive but are generally considered the best vessel for serious wine drinking. Give it a try. Pour small amounts of wine from the same bottle into several different glasses and taste for yourself to see the difference. You’d be surprised!
5. The Rundown on Grapes – You’ve got your “white” grapes (lighter colored green grapes) and your “black” grapes (darker red and blue colored grapes). From your white grapes you get Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. From your “black” grapes you get Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. We recommend you try each of these different types to see which ones you favor. Some people will say, “I don’t like red wine.” But there are six different varietals of red wine grapes (not even counting the many blends you can come up with) so experiment before writing off a whole category of wine.