The experience of Wine Tasting
The experience of Tasting wine can be compared to the experience of admiring art or music. Your interpretation of a wine is the result of a group of sensors working together to help you formulate your opinion. It is an opinion! As such it may differ from others.
Tasting a wine is an experience that starts back well before you actually put the wine glass to your mouth. It can go as far back as the shelf where you have found it. The anticipation that builds up before tasting a new wine can be very exciting: the time you have spent looking through the wine collection in the shop or supermarket, the gathering of friends, the popping of the cork and smelling it and finally the pouring. Finally you are ready to expose your senses to the test.
Unless tasting wines is your profession, for most of us tasting wine is about the fun so there is no right or wrong, however some basic rules should be applied
First and foremost, you need to be methodical and focused. Whenever you have a glass of wine in your hand, make it a habit to take a minute to stop all conversation, shut out all distraction and focus your attention on the wine’s appearance, scents, flavours and finish.
The ability to sniff out the complex wine aromas is essential for tasting. Try holding your nose while you swallow a mouthful of wine. With practice you should be able to isolate flavours and how they intertwine together. These relationships of aromas and tastes are described using specific wine language. ( Read our blog published on the 1st of February 2017 for some of the common terms used.)
Photo: Prestige Italian wines at a wine tasting event in London Jan 2017
“Good Wine” for Beginners
If having fun and enjoying wine is your goal then any wine that you like is a good wine and usually you only need a sip to decide.
If you want to really understand the complexity of a wine and describe them, then you need to properly evaluate it. you will need to be able to identify the main flavour and scent components, you will know the basic characteristics for most important varietal grapes, and beyond that, for the blended wines from the world’s best wine-producing regions. You will also be able to quickly point out specific flaws in bad wines.
Some flaws (and there are many flawed wines out there and not all of them are the cheap ones) are the result of many variables: bad winemaking, bad corks or poor storage. If you are ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant, you want to be certain that the wine you receive tastes the way it was intended to taste. Being able to sniff out common faults, such as a damp, musty smell from a tainted cork called TCA, will certainly make it easier for you to send a wine back.
Photo: Istock- Traditional wine pressing technique
Different Wine Types
A wine beginner might know the obvious basic differences between a red and a white, rosé or sparkling, however differences in wines go beyond that. For example; a red wine, is it Merlot, Amarone or Malbec? A White wine is Pinot Grigio , Sauvignon Blanc or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo? What about the sparkling, is it prosecco or champagne?
Being able to point out the differences is half way to positively describe a wine. Usually the clue is in the label.
Wine is made in virtually every country in the world. These countries are often referred to as “Old World” or “New World.” “Old World” consists of regions with long histories of wine production, such as Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. Some of the most well-known “Old World” wine regions include France, Italy and Germany, and these regions focus greatly on terroir—the unique characteristics of the soil and climate, which give their wine a sense of place. “New World” (as the name suggestions) is used to describe newer wine-producing regions, such as U.S., Australia and Chile. These regions tend to have hotter climates and generally use different labeling methods; they tend to use grapes rather than region on labels for recognition.
While this Blog Might not make you a wine expert, at least we hope that it has sharpen your awareness of some key wine tasting variables and that you go on enjoying the experiences of tasting and responsibly consuming wine.