Drinking great wines isn’t an experienced that should be reserved for the rich and famous. In fact, just about anyone can enjoy a wonderful wine and reap the benefits of the intense and rich flavour as well as the health benefit of judicious drinking. Getting those vintage bottles might seem an expense comparable with a fortnight at a Rome hotel, but you can find many excellent wines at a reasonable price. For maximum enjoyment, you should start learning how to properly taste wines.
Learning to taste wines is a simple but rewarding adventure that will give you more appreciation for both the wines and winemakers and help you enjoy your drinking more. The fascinating thing about wine tasting is that it is a simple affair that gets more complex and interesting the more time you put into it. The good news is that you already have all the tools you need to taste wines: starting with your most basic senses (look, smell, and taste) and expanding your repertoire from there will help you taste wines like the best professionals in no time.
Tasting Wines in Simple Steps, No Stay at a Paris Hotel Required!
Tasting wines involves several of your senses, here is an excellent list of all the steps involved in the act of wine tasting. Keep it close the first times and you’ll discover that it will become second nature soon enough.
- Have a look at the wine, take notice of both the colour and clarity of the liquid. Tilt it away from you to get a better look.
- Notice the colour of the wine going from the rim edges to the middle of the glass (this works the best if you have a white background to get better contrast.)
- What is the actual colour? It’s easy to distinguish the basic tint but go for shades: not just red wine but maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even brownish; not just white wine but clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden or even a subtle shade of amber.
- Once you get the tint and shade down, have a look at the opacity. Are you looking at something watery or darker? Is it translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant? Be on the lookout for sediments as well.
- To get a great impression of the aroma, swirl your glass gently and then take a quick whiff. The swirling will vaporize some of the alcohol in your wine which will in turn release more of the natural aromas.
- Sink your nose into the glass and take a deep breath. Notice if this impression is any different than your first.
- Your smell is much more subtle in its perception than your taste, take advantage of it.
- Don’t be self conscious and do stick your nose into the glass, it’s not something only French people do and you don’t need to be spending some time in a fantastic Paris hotel (like the ones listed here) to give it a try.
- Take a sip and roll the wine around your tongue. There are three phases of the tasting: Attack, Evolution and Finish.
- Attack Phase: this is the initial impression the wine makes on your palate. In this phase you are looking for four key elements: the alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and finally residual sugar.
- Evolution Phase: also called the middle range phase, this is where you get the actual taste of the wine in your palate. The goal here is to discern the flavour profile of the wine, the different tastes that comprise the final product. You might notice fruits, woods, spices and even other things like honey, butter and earthiness.
- Finish: the final phase of the process. This happens after you have swallowed the wine. Notice how long the flavour lasts after swallowing and get a good feel for the after-taste. See if you can taste the remnants of the wine on the back of your mouth. Which of the flavours that comprise it seems to be prevalent here?