Have you ever thought about spending a day or weekend touring wine country? If this is something you’ve been considering, here are some tips for the beginners out there to make the most out of your experience. Taking a trip out to your local vineyards is a great way to relax and unwind. Learning the basics of how to savor the endless variations of wine will definitely keep you coming back for more.
The fundamental goal of wine tasting is to discover which types of wines you absolutely enjoy as well as the ones that don’t exactly suit you. There really is no right or wrong when it comes to wine so I wanted to emphasize this point to make sure you start with a fresh and clear conscience. Now on to the basic tips to help you on your journey in finding the perfect wine!
“The Wine Glass”
You should always start with a clean and clear wine glass. Make sure it is a true wine glass and not a champagne glass or any other type. You can easily distinguish a wine glass from others by noticing that it bends inwards. This is to prevent you from spilling when you swirl the wine. Another main point is that it helps concentrate the delightful aromas straight to the nose.
Have you ever been in a restaurant and noticed someone holding up a glass of wine to stare at it? Believe it or not, this is an important step because it gives you some insight on the age of the wine. Hold the glass up into the light or against a white background. Generally, white wines that are young in age will range from a pale yellow to more of a rich amber. They will darken as they age into a more golden-brown color. Red wines are actually on the opposite end of the spectrum. They gradually lose their color and become more pale as they age. Red wines that are young in age will range from a lighter shade of red to a deep dark cherry red, kind of like the color of red bricks.
The basic principal behind swirling the wine is to let it breathe or aerate so that it releases the wonderful aromas. Take your glass by the stem and swirl it a few times in a circular motion. You can either leave the glass on the table while you do this or hold it in your hand if you prefer.
Most will judge the quality of a wine by it’s smell or fragrance if you will. A good example of this would be the food we eat. If someone gave you something to eat that you’ve never tried before and it smelled funny to you, chances are, you would have second thoughts wouldn’t you? After all, our sense of taste is very closely linked to our sense of smell. This is why it’s always frustrating to enjoy food when you have a stuffy nose. After you’ve swirled the wine a few times, place your nose right over the rim of the glass and take a nice deep breathe. Try and see if you can distinguish all the different scents that hit your nose. You may be able to distinguish the various fruits such as berries, apples, citrus, to hints of herbs and spices. This initial aroma may also be followed up with a more smokey, toasty scent which is due to the way wine gets fermented and aged in oak barrels.
Most people start out with experimenting in the comfort of their own home. Begin with pouring a little bit of wine into your glass; just about an inch at most. If you have a wide selection of wines to choose from, it is generally better to start with the lightest of them all (Whites) and then progress to the darker wines (Reds). Keeping your taste buds fresh and sensitive is the key here so it’s better to be consistent and gradual with the series of wine. You can also help cleanse your palate in between each wine tasting with a small sip of water. Now lets take a sip. Keep in mind that we are tasting so no big gulps! Before you swallow, let the flavors of the wine simmer on your taste buds a little bit. Let it slide across your tongue a few times, try and take in all the different flavors that are present.
There are some basic elements you’ll notice right away with any wine. Is it tart or sweet? Does the alcohol hit you right away? Is it nice and smooth or does it pack a punch? A well balanced wine will be somewhere in the middle for these types of characteristics. You can swallow the wine at this point and take note of any lingering tastes. If you happen to take a trip to the local vineyards, you will notice that there are containers to spit out the wine after it is tasted. Some wine tasters prefer to spit out the wine rather than swallow it so don’t be shy if you are not the latter. This is just a matter of personal preference.
In conclusion, it is important to choose the wine that you truly enjoy rather than be influenced by others. After all, no one will know what you like better than yourself. I encourage you to try as many varieties of wine as you can. As you become more experienced, your taste buds will lead you to the perfect bottle that suits you. Happy wine tasting!