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The Wine Chronicles: How to Taste Wine

Wine3 12372991 300x200 The Wine Chronicles: How to Taste WineTasting Wine for Beginners:  The Look, the Swirl, the Scent and the Taste

By Tim Rodgers

Many of us know that we enjoy a glass of wine.  The complicated part is that many of us don’t know why we enjoy this particular brand & style over others.  “This wine is a little too sweet, this wine taste too much like pepper, this wine tastes a little like vinegar…”  Believe it or not, to fully appreciate the wine you are drinking, there is a method to the madness of actually tasting a particular wine.

It helps to pour your wine into a very clear glass so that the color and clarity of the wine can be appreciated but also a glass big enough that you can swirl the wine around to release the aromas.  Releasing the aromas helps enhance the wine tasting experience.  Essentially, there are four basic components to wine tasting.

Wine 12948951 300x199 The Wine Chronicles: How to Taste WineFirst is the look.  After all, we all initially eat and drink with our eyes, so the look of the wine is very important.  Holding your glass by the stem (as not to get smudges, fingerprints, or spinach & artichoke dip on the glass) put it up against a white background with a good amount of natural light.  In red wines, the color should be brilliant and clear.  White wines should appear limpid and bright.  Older wines should have a less intense color than newer wines, and wines made in cooler regions would have less vivid colors than those made in warmer regions.  Basically, any cloudiness or discoloration in your wine indicates some sort of defect in the wine making process.

Second is the swirl.  Does this make you look pretentious and snobby?  Yes, but swirling the wine around in your glass helps introduce oxygen into the wine which releases key aromas.  With a fairly newer wine, you should swirl it a little more vigorously as opposed to an older wine that should be swirled with a little more care.

Next is the smell.  Don’t be afraid. Stick your schnoz deep into the glass.  This is where you can allow your imagination run wild.  Take deep whiffs of the wine a couple of times if you have to.  Your sense of smell is greater than your sense of taste.  The olfactory memory is one of the strongest memories we have and plays in important role in your own perception of the wine.  Wine experts of course have a list of specific terms and vocabulary for wine tastes, but WhiskeyGoldmine does not play by anybody’s rules, so go wild.  If you think you smell hints of bubble gum, then roll with it baby and tell the chino and sweater vest wearing yuppies Muffy and Biff that there is some bubble gum in their wine.  It happens.

white wine glasses 111 300x225 The Wine Chronicles: How to Taste WineFinally, is the taste.  Take a swig of wine and fill your mouth about half way.  Swish the wine around in your mouth. (don’t gargle) By doing so, you are releasing yet more aromas and finally tasting the wine.  This process is also known as chewing.  Next you can either spit out the wine or swallow.  I think if you are an avid reader of WhiskeyGoldmine, you know we stand on this issue.

Pay attention to how the wine tastes as you drink it.  Is there an aftertaste?  Does it linger? If the aftertaste is too hot, then the alcohol content is probably too high or it is out of balance.  How is the mouth feel?  Is it refreshing and light?  Dry and bitter?  All of these tastes have their own importance and there is a reason to enjoy it all.  Like all things in life, a good wine is about harmony and balance.  The wine should be full with flavor with a nice balance of all of the elements of fruit, tannin, and acid.

Tell Muffy and Biff I said wadup.  Cheers!

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