There are different ways to enjoy a glass of wine, aren’t there? You can invite some friends round to chat over a bottle of Merlot. Or you can sit down to a delicious meal you’ve paired with the perfect tipple. Whatever the occasion, wine certainly adds a dash of magic to it.
But what about taking an occasion and making it entirely about wine? No chatting, no chewing, just tasting. It’s really not that hard. Simply follow these easy steps, and you’ll be on your way to relishing every drop like a pro. And remember, practicing is the fun part!
Start by pouring yourself a glass. Then, take a look at the wine and ask a few questions. What colour is it? If you’re drinking red wine, is the colour maroon, purple or red? If it’s a white wine, is it clear, pale yellow, light green or golden? Remember, intense colours indicate bolder wines.
Next, consider the wine’s opacity. Is it watery or dark, translucent or opaque? Is it dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear? Red wines generally become more translucent with age.
Finally, consider the wine legs. They’re the droplets of wine that form on the inside of your wine glass, and they can tell you whether the wine’s alcohol and sugar content is high or low. Wine with higher alcohol content will have a higher density of droplets on the side of the glass.
You don’t need to spend more than a minute on the “looking” stage.
Start by swirling your glass several times to release the wine’s aromas into the air. Then, take a quick whiff to get a first impression. Remember, when you smell wine, work from broad categories to specific ones. You’ll just frustrate yourself if you try to get too specific, too soon. Instead, ask yourself if you’ve found any fruits. Then, try to identify if they’re citrus, orchard or tropical fruits in white wines, or red fruits, blue fruits or black fruits in red wines.
The next step is to split wine aromas into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary aromas relate to the grape and climate the wine comes from, and include fruit-driven, herbal and floral notes. Secondary aromas come from the winemaking process, and are typically yeast-derived. They’re easiest to pick out in white wines, where you’ll notice them as cheese rind, almond or peanut. Tertiary aromas come from aging wine in bottle or oak. These aromas are usually savoury, like roasted nuts, baking spice, vanilla, old tobacco or autumn leaves.
Begin by taking a small sip and swirling the wine around in your mouth. The idea is to coat your mouth and hit every taste bud. Then, split the tasting phase into three parts: the attack, evolution and finish.
The attack has to do with your initial impression, and it tells you about the wine’s alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and sweetness.
During the evolution phase, you’re concerned with the wine’s actual taste on the palate. You’re trying to pick out whether the wine has a fruity, smoky or earthy flavour. (Do you taste citrusy fruits, apple, honey, herbs etc.?)
Finally, the finish is about how long the flavour lingers after you’ve swallowed or spit out the wine. A good wine will express itself long after leaving your mouth.
The finish revolves around things like the last flavour you tasted, whether the wine was too acidic, and whether you liked it?
Have fun practicing!