I know what you’re thinking…what does a pro taste like? Silly you. You’re meant to taste the wine. It’s much, much more satisfying 🙂 So how does one go about learning to taste wine? I went to my very first wine tasting last week and it was very overwhelming. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about wine…and how much I still don’t know. The whole experience was lovely and sensual and gross all at once.
Ahem. Let me explain.
Professional wine critics and experts often spit out the wine after they taste it so they are free to sample many, many wines without getting tipsy and clouding their judgment. I also tried spitting the wine out (we did start at 10am!) but after a while it really began to make me queasy…there were ‘spit’ buckets all around the room and felt like it was such a waste of the wonderful Burgundy wines we were tasting so I gave it up and began to enjoy the product as it was meant to be enjoyed…I started drinking it and never looked back!
My point here is that you don’t need to be intimidated. I jumped into the experience with both feet and survived and you can too.
Wine tasting for Beginners – 5 steps
#1 – Look at the wine in the glass. Take note of it’s color – eventually you will begin to recognized colors and anticipate the flavor of the wine you are about to enjoy.
#2 – Bring the glass to your nose and inhale. Smell the wine and try to pick up on the overall dominant scent. Some of the Burgundy white wines had a wonderful ‘cheesy’ aroma and I knew instantly what kind of cheese I would like to have with it. Sharp cheddar or creamy Brie. And many of the reds smelled of cherries. Fruits were the easiest scents to pick out but once you get used to it, you might be able to pick up spices, woods, flowers and many other scents that make up the complex scents of wine. You should not have an overpowering alcohol smell…any wine I’ve had in the past which smelled of booze wasn’t that great.
#3 – Swirl the wine around in the glass and smell it again. Exposing it to air often brings out other scents that weren’t detectable before.
#4 – Slurp the wine into your mouth with some air and draw it up over your tongue. Does it taste like the fruits or flowers you smelled? Is it smooth? Does it make your mouth water or draw all the moisture out? Hold it in your mouth for a moment and savor it.
#5 – Now this is where the spitting part came in. You can do that if you are intent on sampling many wines without their after effects but for me the most important part of the tasting was drinking it down. I loved being able to determine which ones warmed my throat and which ones left an acidic tang. Between samples I sipped on water and ate some french bread to remove the taste of one wine before moving on to the next. It was important to make sure you were tasting each wine on it’s own and not in conjunction with the one previous.
That’s it! 5 tips which take the mystery out of wine tasting and allow you to enjoy your experience! See, it’s really not that hard – or as pretentious as it might appear. Anyone can learn to taste wine and pick out flavors, scents and wines they love.