Tasting wine is a lot easier than some people make it out to be. It has only four easy steps that you can immediately start using to finally learn how to tell a good, high-quality wine from lesser bottles. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to always make a good impression.
The Basics of Wine Tasting
There are four basic principles of wine tasting. Well cover each and give you guidance on how to use your senses to make the distinction between top-shelf Merlot and bargain-bin sparkling wine.
1. Look at the Wine
You want to focus on color, how opaque the wine is, and if it makes “Wine Legs”. Wine Legs are drops of wine the form in the wine glass as you move the liquid around due to the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. Move the wine around in the glass and look at how the parts of the glass that the wine touched. Wines with higher alcohol content will leave more droplets on the side of the glass. Wines with higher sugar content will also be more viscous, creating more Wine Legs.
2. Smell the Wine
When smelling white wines, you should think in terms of the fruit groups you can discern from the smell. These include citrus, tropical or orchard aromas. When tasting red wines, you should try and tell if the wine has an aroma that reminds you of red, blue and black fruits. There are three broad categories to consider. The first is the primary aroma which is derived from the grape. These scents remind us of fruits, wild herbs, and flowers. Secondary aromas are the result of the process used to create the wine. The most common include a yeast-like smell, a cheesy aroma, or a nutty scent. Tertiary aromas indicate the wine’s age and remind us of nuts, spices, vanilla, tobacco, and even leather.
3. Taste the Wine
Pay attention to how salty, sour, bitter or sweet the wine is. These attributes can tell you a lot about the type and location of the grapes used to create the wine. Pinot Grigios are known for having bitter after taste while white wines retain more sugars. Next, you want to note the texture. More texture generally means higher alcohol content. Tannins, which are a big part of red wine flavor, create the dry sensation on the tongue. Lastly, notice the length of the taste: how long does the taste stay with you after the sip.
4. Think About the Wine
This is the time to take all the information gleaned from your senses and make your judgment. Consider whether the wine’s taste was balanced, or was it overly sweet and/or acidic? Think about whether its taste, aroma, and texture are unique and worth noting. Ask yourself what the defining characteristic of the wine was and whether you like it or not.