Wine Tasting

Wine tasting need not be an art reserved for the connoisseur and wine writers of this world, rather the tasting process is a natural one that anyone can participate in.

Simply follow these steps and quickly learn to appreciate and evaluate any wines, and remember there is no right or wrong answer when wine tasting.

APPEARENCE

Appearance
Start by pouring a small sample into the glass, hold the stem so as not to change the temperature of the wine, tilt the wine in the glass and look at it preferably against a white background such as a wall, shirt or tablecloth.

The colour will vary according to the varietal you are drinking but all wines should be brilliant and clear, not cloudy or murky. A Merlot will usually be an intense ruby red while a Cabernet Sauvignon will be a darker deeper red and as red wines age hints of reddish-brown will appear around the edges of the glass.  White wines usually become more golden as they age. 

AROMA

Next, swirl the glass using your wrist, until the wine coats the inside of the glass. Place your nose over the glass and inhale. If the wine is young you should be able to smell the ‘typical’ characteristic scents associated with the variety, for example Riesling is usually limey, Chardonnay is peachy, Shiraz is usually peppery and Cabernet Sauvignon smells lke blackcurrant.

This can be difficult as wine consists of over 200 different chemical compounds.  Below are some typical examples of a wine aroma descriptives:

  • berries (blackberry, mulberry)
  • dried figs (fig, mulberry jam)
  • tree fruit (lime, peach)
  • nutty (almond, hazelnut)
  • spicy (pepper, cinnamon)
  • vegetative (cut grass)
  • floral (violet, orange blossom)
  • caramalised (chocolate, butterscotch)

The aroma of the wine can also help detect faults associated with the wine:-

  • A ‘wet dog’ small can reflect cork taint and is commonly referred to as being ‘corked’
  • A garlically or rotten egg smell are by-products of sulphides
  • A vinegary smell can mean the wine has been exposed to air and has become oxidized

TASTE

The best way to taste wine is to take a small mouthful and roll the wine around your mouth, inhale some air by pursing your lips to aerate the wine and accentuate the flavours.

The texture and weight of the wine tells you what sort of ‘body’ it has.  A full-bodied wine will feel rich and heavy in your mouth; generally wines with more alcohol are medium to full-bodied. 

After spitting or swallowing the wine the next step is to determine the wine's finish and the lasting flavours and impression that the wine leaves on your palate. A long, lingering and flavoursome finish is the sign of a well crafted wine.  Poor wines often have a short and unmemorable finish.