At times wine can overwhelm with its complexity, but please don’t let it get to you. We’ll break it down to a few easy steps :
That’s when you examine the appearance, how the wine in your glass looks. You don’t really need to spend too much time on this step. It’s useful once you taste “blind” – not knowing the vintage, grape variety or alcohol percentage. If you know those details in advance just enjoy the color since the more attention you pay to your wine, the more pleasure it will reward you in return.
Swirl & Sniff
Give your glass a swirl and you’ll notice how aromas becoming more vivid and easier to detect. Don’t try to pick up something specific at first that can lead to frustration. Just concentrate on broad categories first such as FRUIT, EARTH, WOOD, and OTHER aromas.
- Fruit like citrus, tropical fruits in whites and dark fruits in reds.
- Earth like autumn leaves, dried spices and mushrooms.
- Wood like oak, sometimes winemakers keep their wines in oak barrels, which can give vanilla, coconut or even coffee notes.
- Other like everything that brings up obvious displeasure, usually those are faults, when wine is, for example, corked or oxidized.
Don't forget that 90% of taste in general is formed by aromas, so take your time and inhale in a relaxed manner!
Sip & Savor
Our tongues can detect salty, sour, sweet, or bitter.
- Acidity - All wines are going to have some sour sensation or acidity, because grapes all have acids. That what keeps wine fresh for years and years. This wine component makes you salivate.
- Sweetness – you feel that when there is a bit of grape sugars left in wine. Most wine is made until there is almost no residual sugar left. Many people confuse sweetness with fruitiness.
- Bitterness - Some varieties are known for their bitterness, for example, Pinot Grigio, and it appears as a sort of light, pleasant tonic-water-type of flavor. Wine also can seem bitter due to tannins or high alcohol content.
- Fruit - each varietal has a different fingerprint that makes it taste different from other varietals. For example Syrah has prunes, black pepper and liquorice. Sauvignon Blanc can be spotted by fresh lime, gooseberry and melon. “Syrah has a lot of fruit” if its components such prunes & liquorice are very sound and expressive.
- Texture - Our tongue can almost “touch” the wine and feel its texture. Texture depends on a few factors: higher-alcohol wines are perceived as “richer” or “heavier”. To understand this concept think of cream vs. low fat milk, the former is much “heavier” than the latter. Tannins – also a textural component to wine – they make your mouth dry, the same as extremely strong tea, do you remember that sandpaper-tongue sensation once you left black tea-bag for far too long in your cup?
A few words that won’t just make you sound like a pro but more importantly help you to remember what you drink:
- Chewy a.k.a. fleshy – wines with lots of tannins.
- This wine is “balanced” – the wine, which is pleasing, nothing in this wine is disturbing or displeasing.
- I can feel “terroir” – meaning that you can feel the influence of the soil in the glass.
- This wine needs “aeration” – you would like the wine to be decanted. You can solve this situation by swirling a glass a few times and leaving it for 5-10 minutes, trust us once the wine is properly “aerated” (filled with oxygen) it will taste completely different.
With practice you’ll be using those phrases effortlessly!
Don’t forget simply feeling and enjoying the wine you taste. Ever heard of Proust's Madeleine moment?
As a child, Marcel’s aunt gave him small madeleines dipped in tea. Adult, Proust realizes that the moment he is eating a madeleine it brings him instantly and involuntarily to the childhood.
At this step we advise you to focus on your own perception, think about what this particular wine reminds you of naturally. It can be a pie your grandmother used to bake or, on the contrary, not that pleasant, wet dog smell. Only such spontaneous and subconscious associations will stick in your mind and help you remember many very different types of wines.
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