My favorite hobby is wine tasting (shocker, I know)! Summer is the high season for wine tasting, with endless sunshine and a glass of wine, talk about heaven!
There is a scary stigma with wine tasting, if you’ve never been, it can be intimidating! Many people think you need to be a professional, but listen, we are all there for one purpose and it certainly isn’t to look at the glass.
There are some key fundamentals to tasting and evaluating wine. To look like you’ve been doing this for years, follow these easy steps to fool us all!
1. Look: Take a peek at the color, opacity, and viscosity (wine legs) of the wine. The more vibrant the color, the younger the wine. Reds that have some browning tend to mean they are older. White wine that is more yellow in color tend to be aged in oak. But there are always exceptions to the rule since winemakers all differ with their styles. So, basically, just see if it’s wine.
2. Smell: This is arguably the most important part of tasting since your nose will pick up most of the tasting notes right away. The big components to think about are: floral notes, fruity notes, earthy notes, herbacious, and any baking spices. Baking spices tend to be from the barrel (vanilla, clove, coconut, dill). Honestly, you don’t have to have a rolodex in your head of specific items within a floral group. Just being able to pick out a few broad notes makes you one step ahead of the rest!
Tip: Smell the wine an inch from the lip of the glass. This is where you get all your floral notes. Putting your nose deeper into the glass will reveal fruit, earth, etc. notes. If you smell mostly alcohol, give it a big swirl to open it up and stick your nose in one more time.
3. Taste: The best part! Take a sip and swirl the wine in your mouth. Are you salivating? That is the acid in the wine. The more saliva, the higher the acid content. This tends to be with white mostly. Are you getting a dry sensation on your tongue? These are tannins reacting to your saliva. This happens with red wines and if you give your glass a couple vigerous swirls, they should loosen up.
Tasting the wine will also validate anything that you smelled before, do the notes match up? Do they surprise you? Not all tasting notes match nose to tongue so no worries if you taste something completely different than you smell.
4. Do you like it? If so, score! Chances are you won’t like everything you taste, but it is always fun to keep an open mind with wines you think you may not like. Winemakers and wine regions can surprise you, so even if you are skeptical of a certain varietal, it’s always fun to give it a try anyways.
Courtesy Tip: If you don’t like a certain wine that you tried, it is always a polite gesture to not explicitly say that in front of the wine maker or the tasting room associate. If they ask if you like a not so great wine, it is always best to reply with what your favorite one was so far. “It was nice, but I really like… or I can’t wait to try…”
Wine tasting is supposed to be fun! Walk the property, take in the sights, drink the wine (in moderation), and repeat!