Wine tasting is an art form all its own. There is a proper way to taste wine other than just gulping it down. You must incorporate four different elements when wine tasting, look, smell, taste, and thought. Grab a bottle of wine and let’s learn how to taste wine like a pro.
How to taste wine
As long as you have a glass of wine, you can learn how to taste wine like a pro, even if you’re a beginner.
Step 1: Look
Take a moment to really look at your wine. Check out the color, opacity and viscosity. You don’t need to take a long time with with this step, but do take a moment and evaluate how it looks.
Step 2: Smell
Place the wine glass under your nose and smell all the aromas that the wine gives off. There are generally three primary categories that each wine will have.
-Primary aromas: Come from the actual grapes in the wine and will smell like fruits, herbs, and floral.
-Secondary aromas: Come from how the wine was made. These can include scents of yeast, cheese rind, and nuts.
-Tertiary aromas: Come from aging the wine and may produce scents of oak, tobacco, and leather.
Step 3: Taste
When you’re new to wine tasting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with terms like ‘full-bodied' or 'tannin-rich,’ so stick to the terms you do know. Does it taste sweet? Bitter? Sour? No need to reach for the stars when you’re a beginner wine taster.
Your tongue can detect flavors instantly. Within seconds you’ll be able to tell if a wine is sour, light, or sweet.
Our tongues can also detect the texture of the wine. During this step, you can see if the wine is more rich and velvety, which is usually due to the wine having a higher alcohol content, or has a more watery consistency.
You can also evaluate how long the taste of the wine lasts in your mouth. Wine has a beginning, middle, and end to it. This is known in wine tasting as 'beginning, mid-palate, and finish'.
Step 4: Think
Now is the time to draw a conclusion about the wine. How did it taste to you? Was it too sweet, too acidic, or too dry? What did you love about it? Would you consider buying a bottle?
Helpful tasting tips
The good news is, you don’t have to be an expert to go to a wine tasting. The first rule of wine tasting is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Here are some helpful wine tasting tips that anyone can use for both red wine and white wine, whether you’re a pro or a beginner wine taster.
- Swirl and sniff: You know when you see people swirling wine around in their wine glass? There’s a reason for that! The swirling action actually allows for oxygen to enter the wine and become more fragrant. The next time you’re at a wine tasting, don’t be afraid to swirl! This way, you’ll be able to identify aromas more easily.
- Spit or swallow: Spitting out wine may seem like a waste to some people, but if you’re going to be tasting wine after wine, it’s a good way to remain sober. You can of course, choose to swallow each wine after tasting it, but your judgment might be slightly off by the time you get to your 6th glass.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: You’re at a wine tasting for a reason! It’s normal to have questions about the wine, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Some people know wine like the back of their hand, and some don’t. Winemakers love to talk about their wines, it’s their passion! They will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
- Have a budget in mind: It’s easy to get carried away when tasting expensive bottles of delicious wine, but your wallet will thank you later if you arrive with a budget already planned out.
- Snack on something during the tasting: Some wineries provide nuts or a small cheese board during a wine tasting. If they don’t have a complimentary one, it’s a good idea to order something to snack on so you don’t wind up feeling light headed. Remember to take sips or water through out the tasting as well so you stay hydrated.
Need tips on how to open a bottle of wine without a wine opener? We've got you covered!
Tips: How to make cheap wine taste better
Sometimes, our luck runs out and we choose a bad bottle of wine. Instead of dumping it down the sink, there are a few tricks to make cheap wine taste better.
Tip 1: Let it breathe
This is known as ‘decanting’ the wine, and it can really help make bad wine taste better. Decanting your wine into a wide mouth decanter can allow more oxygen to flow into the wine and allow for the flavors to fully develop.
Tip 2: Add some lemon
A lot of cheap wines have an unpleasant flavor that can be balanced out with the citrus acid from a lemon. Squeeze a lemon slice into a glass of cheap wine and let it sit for a few moments. Make sure it’s mixed in, and then take a sip. The theory is that the lemon scent and flavor will combine with the existing flavors in the wine and will create a more desirable flavor.
Tip 3: Add some juice
If you’ve got a bottle of wine that’s just unbelievably sour, adding some grape juice can really help sweeten it up. The ratio of grape juice to wine is up to your personal preference, so try adding in a little at a time until you’re satisfied with the flavor.
Tip 4: Make a spritzer
This tip works especially well for white wine. Assuming that it’s already chilled, pour a half glass of white wine and fill the rest up with some bubbly seltzer. The bubbly compounds will help add a nice complexity to the otherwise boring cheap white wine.
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