Are you interested in wines and want to refine your pallet? Wine tasting is more than just a celebration for your taste buds, it’s an art and something you need to practice to be able to enjoy it fully. The good news is that anyone can learn the basics of wine tasting rather quickly.
Below are some simple steps for beginners who would like to learn to drink wine with intent.
The Initial Step – Ensure good evaluating conditions
Wine tasting is an experience involving many of our senses including smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Therefore, it’s important you consider the environment in which you taste the wines. You want a neutral environment with as few disruptions or interference as possible. Below are some things to think about when it comes to your tasting environment:
- Sound: Too much noise can easily distract from the wine. Try and find a calm and quiet environment for your tasting.
- Smell: Wearing heavy perfume or smoking while sampling the wine may alter the taste. Cooking small can also distract from the wine’s aromas.
- Light: The lighting of a room sets the tone and can affect the taste of the wine. A dim light enhances the senses and is said to stabilize emotions.
- The temperature: Different wines should be served at different temperatures. Some aromas get lost if the wine is either too cold or too warm and is simply not enjoyable.
Evaluate the Wine by Sight
Once you have made sure the environment is neutralised it is time to move on to the next step: visually examining the wine.
Start by looking straight down the glass. Then, hold the glass up towards the light, allowing you to see its complete colour spectra. By examining the colour of the wine, you will learn to identify different grapes and the density of the wine.
Looking at the wine from the side, and against the light, will tell you how clear it is. A murky wine may indicate an issue with its fermentation (unless it’s an unfiltered wine). Generally, you are looking for a clear, bright wine with some sparkles to it.
Ever so slightly tilt your glass towards you, and then away from you. By doing this the wine will ‘thin out’ towards the rim and give you clues about its age and weight. The intensity of colour offers clues about variety and age and is not an indicator of quality.
Evaluate the Wine by Scent
The next step is to evaluate the wine by using your smell. Give the glass a good swirl a few inches under your nose and take in the aromas. As there are too many aromas in one wine to identify, it’s easier to learn how to identify off or flawed aromas, indicating that the wine is flawed.
A corked wine smell will resemble a musty old attic and is sadly a spoilt wine. If the wine smells like vinegar it contains volatile acidity, and if it gives off an earthy horsey smell it is Brettanomyces—an undesirable yeast, prominent in the beverage.
If you learn to identify these three flawed smells to avoid, you are one step closer to learning what wine you do you enjoy.
If you cannot decipher any off-aromas, look for fruity aromas. You can learn to identify the grape by smell and their growing conditions. For experts, this provides clues about the climate, country or even vineyard of the wine.
You find floral aromas in many cool-climate white wines like Riesling. Sauvignon Blanc often has a strong scent of grass while Cabernet Sauvignon usually smells more like herbs. Some of the finest, most expensive wines have an earthy smell, like rocks or dirt even.
Evaluate the Wine by Taste
The final, and maybe most important step, is evaluating the wine by taste. Take a sip and swirl it around in your mouth. Your tongue will be able to pick up notes of salty, sour, sweet, or bitter. All wines are going to have some sour because of the acidity in grapes, but some wines are more on the bitter side, such as a Pinot Grigio.
Some white wines will have a small portion of their grape sugars retained, which adds to their natural sweetness. Very few wines have a salty taste, but they do exist.
Your tongue can perceive the wine’s texture. An increase in texture almost always happens in a higher-alcohol, riper wine as ethanol is perceived as “fuller” than water.
Wine Tasting at Cedar Creek Estate
Cedar Creek Estate Cellar Doors open at 10 am for wine tastings and sales. We have a complete range of wines -white, red, and fortified – available for purchase, as single units or in cases of 12, along with our extensive range of accessories.
You will learn many things including how to connect your taste and smell senses to food and wine. 5x wine tastings are included.
Call (07) 5545 1666 to book a wine-tasting session.