TO DRINK: Tilt glass and swallow.
Easy, anyone can do it!! I happen to consider myself a pro. See?!
Although TO TASTE the wine is quite different, it’s a skill that must be keenly learned and strategically implemented (that’s the fun part), and the more you do it the better at it you become. Of this, I’m not such a pro.
SET AND SETTING
“Through a concentrated application of all the senses, and by comparison of the immediate sense data with memories of other wines tasted, the serious taster can decipher a wine's biography to an amazing extent, including…
• the growing season that produced it
• the approach of the winemaker who created it
• and its relation to other wines of similar type or origin
"Every bottle of wine is a message, the physical embodiment of a specific place and time captured and transmitted for the pleasure of the taster." - Wine Spectator
Apparently, the best ambiance to taste wine is with friends in a warm comfortable setting. (What?!? Share my wine? No way! Ahem…I mean… yes, of course, with friends.)
Ok, back to the learning.
Tasting is not an exact science. Everyone has different levels of sensitivities, so it is possible that different opinions can be held the same glass of wine.
Check out this statement, it totally conflicts what I’ve been doing for the last___ years. (No way, not going to reveal how long I’ve been drinking.)
“The goal in tasting wine is not to "find"
the same aromas and flavors some other taster is describing. If you hone your own perceptual abilities
and develop your own vocabulary
to articulate them, you'll not only derive more pleasure from the wine itself, but also stimulate better communication between you and the friends who are sharing the bottle.” - Wine Spectator
LOOKING AT WINE
If you’re like me, you’d look at a glass of wine and say it’s either Red, White or Blush. Not the case…
1. Fill wine glass one-third full. (and supposedly not a coffee cup or
2. Pick it up by the stem.
3. You are looking for….
a. Hue - true color - Tilt Glass; look inside and see the variations
from the deepest part to the edges. (there are many hues...too many to list)
b. Intensity - gauged by looking straight down at the wine
c. Clarity - is the wine brilliant or cloudy with particles?
- best seen when light is shining sideways through the glass.
4. Swirling - careful not to spill on your favorite t-shirt…I mean blouse or dress shirt. Easiest way is to rest the glass on a table, hold the stem with your thumb and forefinger and gently rotate the wrist. Move the glass until the wine is ‘dancing’, climbing nearly to the rim. Stop. A film appears on the sides, falling slowly down in ‘tears’ or ‘legs’, the more ‘tears’ the more alcohol. This also prepares the wine for the next step.
(We’re getting closer and closer to my favorite step…)
When the tears are falling it’s time to sniff. Agitating the wine vaporizes some of the liquid intensifiying the aromas. The smaller the rim, the more intense the aroma.
1. Stick nose in glass…inhale.
That’s it!! Sounds simple, ah ah, now comes the hard part…WHAT are you smelling?! This could be a whole new Blog series…and actually Richard has already tapped into this area bit, see his blog of March 10th, 2008
The average person can identify approximately 10,000 different aromas. WOW!! How many of those are inherent in wine?! Many, many…
“Serious wine tasters love to identify smells. ‘Chocolate!’ cries one. ‘Burnt matches!’ insists another. ‘Tea, tobacco, mushrooms and a bit of the old barnyard,’ intones a third...some normal aromas may be rose, iris, cherry, peach, honey and vanilla.” - Wine Spectator
(ALRIGHT! My favorite step…)
Once again, technique
is the key to ‘truly tasting’.
1. With the aromas still in your senses, take a mouthful, not too much and not too little. You don’t want too much to have to swallow right away.
2. Swirl for at least 10-15 seconds, rolling the wine around your mouth bringing it in contact with every little nook and cranny.
a. Tannin astringency is most noticeable on the inner cheeks.
b. Alcohol burns the back of the throat.
3. Accentuate the tastes by inhaling gently through pursed lips.
4. Chew the wine vigorously to draw every flavor out. (sounds weird, I know)
5. Finish…swallow…exhale gently through both your nose and your mouth. The better the wine the more complex the aromas will be.
(See how Richard 'tastes' with ease...)
“With great wines, sensitive tasters and minimal distractions, the finish can last a minute or more. It's a moment of meditation and communion that no other beverage can create.” - Wine Spectator
This is great…I’m going to start ‘tasting’ my wine from now on. Although, I think that after each ‘taste’, I’ll take a few ‘drinks’; Tilt glass and swallow
'Til next time...