Wine Tasting Techniques For Beginners
Wine tasting has a scientific process, but with the basics, even beginners can be knowledgeable. Assessing wine is a systematic process, but tasting wine doesn’t have to be overly complicated or fussy. If we agree on basic terms, then wine tasting can be social and informative. Since wine tasting depends on the senses, it is a personal preference. Wine tasting doesn’t have to be an esoteric mystery if it follows key steps and is kept simple. It takes a sommelier (a wine steward) several years to attain certification, but an amateur vinosseur (‘Vino’ = Wine Connoisseur) can learn enough of wine tasting science to seem knowledgeable quickly.
Wine Sight For Beginners
The first act is looking carefully at the wine. Tilt your glass 45° and observe three factors: color, intensity, and clarity. Generally, reds lose color with age and whites gain. So a young red will look purple, and an aged one will be more garnet. Whites will appear a watery green to a golden yellow.
- Use a white background, if possible, to enhance coloring. Ideally, a wine should be clear and not cloudy.
- Observe the ‘legs’; wine clinging to the glass indicates fullness and richness.
Wine Smell For Beginners
The nose is an important organ to help distinguish taste. Swirl the wine, poke your nose into the glass, and sniff briefly. For beginners, descriptive terms should be general rather than too specific. Given the wide range of perceptions, Wilson advises that it is sufficient for the inexperienced to distinguish between a floral, fruity, or spicy smell rather than specific associations.
With more experience, a taster will recognize that a wine aged in American oak can smell of vanilla more than French oak or a hint of chocolate or truffles. But to say it is Anjou or Bartlett pear can be a bit snooty. A glass of young wine is said to have an aroma and an aged wine a bouquet.
How To Taste Wine For Beginners
The tongue, not a perfect sensory organ, can detect sweetness on the tip and acidity on the sides, but individual interpretations vary. Tasters are looking for length and balance. To have length, the flavor will last beyond the first hit, fading rather than disappearing quickly. Balance refers to tannins and acids, which are in all wines.
Tannins are naturally found in grapes, especially the skins and crushed seeds. High tannin content is ‘hard,’ giving a puckery taste and even feeling like the teeth are getting coated. Wine with too much acidity may be tart. Wilson says, “Tannin is a mouth-drying feeling; acidity is a mouth-watering sensation.”
Related: Five Health Benefits of Drinking Organic Wine
Overall Summary: Wine Tasting Techniques For Beginners
Wine tastings provide opportunities to practice summarizing wines. Most wineries have them, and often wine shops, hotels, and wine clubs will organize them. The role of a wine tasting is to provide experience and make the process social.
Comparing 2 oz. samples or ‘flights’ of wine can be organized in several ways:
- Compare a wine from different regions or terroirs.
To compare vintages of one winery.
To compare wine/food pairings.
Attend tasting with confidence, knowing that you use three senses and a half dozen agreed-upon categories to help you summarize.
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