Wine tasting is properly known as 'Wine Degustation'. It is the art of
being able to note the various differences between difference types of
wine, and even the various differences between the vintages of the same
type of wine.
There are basically two parts to Wine Tasting, first is 'What are we
looking for' the second is 'How are we looking'. We'll start with the
How, and move on to the What.
Traditionally the seven steps to sampling wine are: see, sniff, swirl,
smell sip, swish, and spit. This is the process we see tasters going
through at the table and in wineries.
The first thing we want to do is see that the color of the wine is good.
Put some light behind the glass and look for clarity. Fogginess is a
sign we probably want to be careful with. Rusty colors in a white wine
are another sign that we probably don't want to put it in our mouths.
That might seem a bit crass but let's keep in mind what we are looking
at here. The act of Wine Degustation didn't get its start at high
society dinner tables as a way to see what was good with lamb, and what
is better with beef. Wine Degustation came into being as a method of
deciding what was safe to drink and what might be poisonous due to bad
storage or aging processes. While today these tasting methods are less
defensive, since modern methods of wine making produce safer wines, some
wines you may get to embrace were bottled 100 years ago, or even 200.
Some red wines are so dark you will be lucky to see anything through
them, but we still want to take a look. Some of the more obvious signs
we want to look for are brown, muddy, orange or other non-winelike
colors. It is not uncommon to see bits of cork floating in a glass of
wine, just try to make sure that it is cork.
After our eyes are satisfied, we try our nose. Recall that taste is more
or less an olfactory sense. With practice we can tell a great deal about
a wine from its perfume. A good whiff at the very least will give you an
impression, or preview of what to expect from the wine when we taste it.
The obvious impressions to look out for are: does it smell like wine? Is
the overall fragrance fresh or foul? Anything strange about it?
Our next step, the swirl, enhances our ability to evaluate the first two
steps once more. The swirl is to get some of the wine onto the surface
of the inside of the glass. Wines are generally not oily or syrupy. The
liquid should slide off the side in an expected manner. Also with the
wine spread out on the surface, it should be easier to get a better
sample of the fragrance it presents. Which is what we do now, but this
time we inhale it slowly. No quick sniffs. We bring the fragrance into
our nose with a smooth steady inhale, letting our mind go through the
stages of the bouquet with a more examining course.
If our nose is still interested then we move on to taking a small sip.
Just enough to get a taste on our tongue. You will notice here a bit
more of the cautionary tactics in the wine tasting steps, but there is a
bit more benefit really than just making sure that we didn't miss
something painful in the previous steps before we commit to a good
mouthful. Taking in just a taste allows our mouth to get a quick
preview and some expectations. There is also the fact that many
concoctions, not just wine, taste a bit different when taken in small
sips rather than mouthfuls.
So we are still interested, and by this time we are sure whether or not
we want to commit to a real taste, so we take in a mouthful. Not only do
we take it in, we swish it around like it was mouthwash, letting the
liquid coat every part of our mouths and gums. Allowing the wine to be
heated up by our body temperature. Some tasters even gargle a bit with
the wine, because our taste buds are everywhere in our mouths.
The last step is spit or swallow. Not much to say about that, but it is
a choice to be sure. If this is the only wine or one of two or three you
are going to be tasting tonight, swallowing might be an appropriate
option. But if you are at a winery and going through 6 or 7 wines,
spitting is probably your best option. Otherwise every wine is going to
start tasting "swell" and you might as well just have a few glasses
rather than try to go through the steps.
What are we really looking for through all of this? There are many
aspects of wine, and each vintage and type has its nuances. There are
some over all basics though we can start out with.
Oakiness - Some wines have a 'oak' flavor. There really isn't another
way to describe it. You have to taste it, but once you do you can pick
it out. The flavor is generlly from either from the Aging barrel or oak
Sweetness - The process of some wines allows a greater amount of the
natural sugars from the grapes (Or fruit) to remain without being
processes into alcohol. So a sweetness, and sometimes a fruity taste
remains from the amount of residual sugar
Tannin - A wine stressing tannins would be described most of the time as
dry. Tannin is the bitterness from seed and skin of the grape and is
effected by carbonic maceration and Maceration
Above all, the real test is Did you like it. Your tastes are just as
valid as anyone else's and life is too short for wine you don't like.
Jerry Powell is the Owner of a Popular site Know as Gourmet911.com. As you can see from our name,
we are here in the business to help you learn more
about different kinds of Gourmet Food and Wines,
from all around the world. http://www.gourmet911.com