Learning to taste wine properly can completely alter and heighten your wine tasting experience. True wine tasting will start with your basic senses such as look, smell and taste, and then expand them to full capacity.
Our noses have the ability to smell thousands of unique scents, but our taste range is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that discern the flavour of a wine.
Breaking down the steps of wine tasting
- Look – assess the colour and clarity of your wine. Tilt the glass away from you and look at the colour of the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass against a stark background. A red wine can range from maroon, purple, ruby, garnet and even brown. A white wine can appear clear, light green, golden or even amber.
- A closer look – discern the wine’s opacity. Tilt your glass slightly and swirl the wine around. You may recognise bits of sediment or other floaters. Older red wines have more orange tinges on the edges, and older white wines are darker than the younger white wines.
- Smell – move closer to get a good impression of the wine’s aroma. This is critical in properly analysing a glass of wine. Swirl your glass for 10 – 12 seconds and take a quick whiff for a first impression. By swirling the wine it helps vaporise some of the wine’s alcohol and release natural aromas.
- A closer smell – take a deep inhale. Sticking your nose into the glass will allow you to get a good second impression. Descriptions can vary from oak, berry, flowers, vanilla or citrus. The aroma is an outstanding indicator of a wine’s quality.
- Taste – finally! Start with a small sip and let it roll around your mouth. There are different stages of taste:
- Attack phase. This is the initial impression and is comprised of four pieces. They are alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity, and residual sugar. A good wine will have a good balance of these components.
- Evolution phase. The mid-palate, or middle range phase, is the wine’s actual taste on the palate. This is the phase to discern the flavour of the wine.
- The Finish. This refers to how long the flavour impression lasts after being swallowed. You can ask yourself questions such as How long did the aftertaste last? Was it light, medium or full-bodied? Can you taste the remnant of the wine on the back of your mouth and throat?
- Record – your overall impressions.
This article was originally published by the spruce, “How to Taste Wine”