Monday, December 11, 2006

The Basics of Wine Tasting

Woah, time really passed fast. I have been away for one week and the feeling of coming back to write about wine is so good.

Okay, let me talk about wine tasting this time round...

The point of wine tasting is simply to find wines that we will thoroughly enjoy. There's no right and wrong when it comes to wine tasting. Having said that, here are some basic tips that will be helpful for us to evaluate a new wine to see if it suit our taste.

  1. Start with a clear wine glass. The rim of the glass should bend inwards to help funnel aromas to the nose, and allow you to swirl without spilling on your tie.

  2. Now pour a little wine into your glass. An inch or less is best. If you are tasting several wines, begin with the lightest (sparkling wines, roses, then light whites followed by full-bodied whites) and progress to the heaviest (light reds to more full-bodied reds followed by dessert wines). This will help keep our taste buds more sensitive and so we can better appreciate each wine in the series. A sip of water between wines can also help preserve your palate.

  3. Notice the color of the wine. It often helps to hold the glass up to light or hold it against a white background, like a white napkin. The color can give you a clue as to the age of the wine. White wines generally gain color as they age. Red wines lose color. That is, young red wines are more red or burgundy while older wines tend to show a hint of tawny brown around the rim. Regardless of age, the colors of wine are just fun to see, ranging from pale yellow-green to ruby red to brick red-brown.

  4. Swirl the wine a couple of times by moving the glass in a circular motion.Holding the glass by its stem, instead of the bowl, allows you to swirl more easily. Swirling is done to aerate the wine and release vapors, evaporating from the sides of the glass, for you to smell.

  5. Then put your nose right over the rim of the wine glass and breathe in. Take note of the wine's aromas and bouquet.

  6. Take a sip, letting the wine spread across the tongue from front to back and side to side before swallowing. Notice the flavors and acidity of the wine. How silky or rough does the wine feel?

  7. Swallow a small amount if you wish to note any lingering "finish". But if you are tasting a number of wines in a winery tasting room, for example, your host will usually provide a large container for you to spit out the wine instead of swallowing. Everyone in the wine trade is accustomed to the swirl-sniff-sip-slosh-and-spit routine. No one wants an intoxicated taster or worse an intoxicated driver.
The bottom line is that a good wine should always give pleasure. It should smell good, taste even better, and be smooth and satisfying by itself or with whatever you're eating.

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