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When it comes to wine tasting, you don’t need to be a professional wine taster in order to find a wine that is enjoyable to your palate. Here are some simple wine tasting tips that will get you through the process like a pro. The important thing is to understand why you are following these five basic steps. Once the wine is poured into a wine glass, hold it by the stem and follow these simple steps.
1. Sight – Try to look through the wine onto a white background. A sheet of paper is ideal. You can tell a lot about the age of the wine from the color. White wines will develop more color as they age while reds will generally lose color. And if you keep them long enough they’ll both turn the same color, brown. As white wines age they will change through: yellow-green, straw, pale gold, deep gold, light amber, yellow-brown, brown. As red wines age they will change through: purple-pink, ruby, mid red, dark red, brick red, tawny brown.
2. Swirl – swirl the wine in the glass. The aim is to oxygenate the wine. This releases the ‘volatiles’ into the air above the wine. Get as much wine as you can on the side of the glass, this gives you more wine to air surface area. Decanting a wine serves the same purpose before serving it.
3. Smell the wine – Straight after swirling the wine, stick your nose right in the glass and take a few short sharp sniffs. A long sniff will dull your sense of smell. What you’re looking for here can be summarized in three areas: the grape smell, fermentation bouquet and maturation odors.
4. Sip – Many of the tastes are really smells. Try holding your nose while tasting a wine. You’ll find there’s a lot less ‘taste’ in the wine. There are four primary tastes you can identify:
5. Savor – what does the taste of wine left in your mouth feel like? A wine can have a short, medium or long aftertaste or finish. As a rough guide: short means the taste is gone in less than 10 seconds, medium is up to around 60 seconds and if you’re still tasting the wine after 60 seconds then it’s a long finish. If there’s an unpleasant acidy aftertaste then you probably won’t like the wine. If the long aftertaste leaves you with a pleasant taste then it’s probably going to be a wine you will have on your table.
For many people, this is the most intimidating part of the wine tasting process. Fear not, no one at the winery tasting rooms expect you to be an expert. In fact, most people visiting wineries are casual drinkers. It’s totally acceptable to simply say that you like it or don’t like it. If you want to expand your knowledge of wine terms, you may consider using any of the terms listed in the wine glossary.
Pronouncing wine names can be tricky. To help you, check out the “Wine Pronunciation Guide”. The list of wines each have phonetic spelling which will help you pronounce the name of wines correctly.