Wine tasting is seen as the ultimate cultured activity. This means that it comes with a certain air of class and elegance, expectations of a refined palate and knowing just what to say. However, how many people actually know how to taste wine properly?
Wine tasting may seem a little old-hat to the wine connoisseur, but how often do you actually take the time to really appreciate the fine wines in your collection? Often just a small sip will suffice before you choose a bottle from your wine rack, but it is the whole process that really makes wine tasting a special experience.
We aim to shatter the illusion and make wine tasting accessible to everyone – after all, wine is there to be enjoyed. Wine tasting doesn’t need to be a complicated process. As soon as you understand the basic principles, you will begin to learn what you should be looking out for. Of course, it is always important to remember that everyone’s palate is different, meaning that personal tastes and preferences will always prevail.
Follow Your Nose
50% of taste comes from smell, so your nose is as important a tool as your palate when it comes to wine tasting. Pick a bottle from your wine rack and pour a small amount into a glass to taste. The first step should be to swirl the wine around the glass before you taste it. This will allow you to smell the aroma of the wine, and can also help you to identify if there are any problems.
There are three subcategories for detecting the aroma of wine:
- Primary – the most dominant aromas
- Secondary – background flavours, usually as a result of the production process
- Tertiary – aromas stemming from the ageing process
Although it can be difficult to pick the subtle aromas out at first, with practice, you will become much more proficient at detecting the individual scents.
What to Look Out For
Next, comes taste. Flavour is detected on the palate, but the most important aspects to take into consideration are the acidity, sweetness, and tannins. These will dictate the style of the wine and also help when it comes to finding the perfect food pairing. You may also have heard professional wine tasters talking about the body of the wine - this is the overall feel and intensity of the wine.
Last but not least, you will need to either swallow or spit out the wine to understand the finish. As a general rule, the longer the positive taste of the wine lingers, the higher the quality of the wine should be.
Fancy having a go at wine tasting? Stock up your wine rack and invite some friends round for the perfect enjoyable evening.