We’re all good at drinking wine… but how good are we at actually tasting it? There’s a lot more that goes into properly tasting wine than you might think. Hosting a wine tasting is a fun way to discover new bottles of wine from different regions, identifying aromas and flavors, and… a great excuse to drink a lot of wine with your friends. Learn how to taste wine in five easy steps.
Make sure your wine glasses are clean and clear (save your gold leafed glasses for brunch) so you can study the color of the wine. And make sure they have a stem to avoid warming the wine when holding the glass in your hands.
Use properly shaped glasses. Red wine glasses have a larger mouth and bowl. This allows the aromas and flavors to come out as you swirl the wine. White wine glasses are a bit more narrow to reduce the amount of air that gets into the glass.
Start with lighter bodied wines so you don’t overwhelm your palette.
Cleanse your palette between wines with mild snacks like bread, crackers, etc.
Hold your glass against a white surface or under natural light and take note of the color, opacity, and viscosity (“legs”).
If a white wine has a pale yellow color, it will likely be light and crisp. If your glass of red wine is opaque and a deep ruby color, it is a full-bodied wine with hints of dark cherry and smoky notes.
Swirling your glass helps to aerate the wine and releases more of its aroma. Swirl it for about five seconds then look for the wine’s legs (these are the streaks of wine that crawl down the glass). This indicates alcohol level and sweetness. Dry, bigger bodied wines usually have a higher viscosity and more pronounced legs.
Use your instincts. Whatever smells first come to mind, write them down. Primary aromas are fruit, florals and earthy notes. Secondary unclude nuts, butter, vanilla, and cedar. Finally, tertiary aromas include nuts, spices, tobacco, leather and cedar.
Last, but certainly not least. Taste the wine. Take a few sips and allow the wine to wash over every tastebud. Take note of how it tastes. Do you like it? Does it taste balanced? What characteristics shined through?
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