WINE 101:

BEGINNING WINE TASTING

If you’re new to the world of wine, your first tasting can be intimidating. You don’t expect to put on a pair of skis and swoosh down a black diamond trail on your first outing. Similarly, don’t expect to be a seasoned wine pro at your first tasting.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind, but remember to focus on enjoying yourself and the wine and you’ll do just fine.

 

THE TASTING PROCESS

Get a good look. Swirl the wine gently in the glass. Does it wash quickly over the glass or appear to take its time traveling back down the side of the glass? Is there sediment in the glass? How deep is the color? How clear is it? Notice how this correlates to taste later.

Smell the wine. According to Live Science, 80 percent of our sense of taste comes via our sense of smell. Wine drinkers know this very well, making it crucial to take a good whiff from your glass before the wine touches your mouth. How a wine is made and stored all affect its “nose” or “bouquet.” Take note of what you smell. Is it fruit, herb, earth? If you notice a vinegar smell, the wine might have gone bad. A musty scent could alert you to the presence of mold or dust.  A strong smell of cork could also mean trouble. Assuming a pleasant smell, proceed to tasting.

Taste the wine. When tasting a wine, note how it feels and tastes. Swirl it around in your mouth. Is it full-bodied or light? Does it feel “dry” or “astringent,” or perhaps sweet? After noting the tastes and considering how it compares to your visual and smell observations, spit out the wine (if you plan to taste several wines) or swallow it.

 

HONING YOUR TASTING STYLE

Your tasting skills will evolve over time. If you plan to make a hobby of it, you will notice during future tastings that your palate will evolve. As this happens, you might start to prefer wines that are more “dry” than sweet. You will become more adept at picking out particular characteristics in wines. You also will start to notice what you like in a wine. Do you prefer an oaky Cabernet? A fruity Zinfandel? A rich Pinot Noir? A fruity Rosé? There’s only one way to find out. Practice makes perfect — or at least in this instance, practice can be a whole lot of fun.

 

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