Wine tasting isn't just for the ladies. Sophisticated wine connoisseurs all around the globe are swishing, sniffing, sipping, and spitting wine. If you are going to your fist wine tasting, or even just enjoying an evening with some wine aficionados, how can you fit in? Here are some tips to help you enjoy your wine tasting experience.
Wine tasting is about engaging the senses. Before you even taste the wine you will want to look at it. Look for wines with an intense color in the glass. Wine tasters will often be very specific in describing the wine's “color”. Basic colors are white, red, and blush. A red port is referred to as “ruby” because it has a rich dark hue. A brown port has been aged in oak and thus has a “tawny” color. When you swirl it, some of the wine will cling to the sides of the glass. This is called the wine's “legs”.
As much as 80% of the wine tasting experience involves your nose, so don't forget to stop and smell the grapes. Enjoying the aroma and giving the wine time to aerate is only going to enhance the flavor of that first sip. This stage is referred to as the “nose” of the wine.
Now it is time to get your mouth involved. Rather than letting the wine slip straight down your throat, make sure to swish it around and coat your whole mouth. The initial flavor is referred to as the “palate”. Remember what the wine did to the sides of your glass. Now you are letting the wine coat the inside of your mouth the same way. How long does the flavor linger? Are other subtle flavors brought out after a few moments? This is called the “finish”.
Whether you decide to spit or swallow the liquid itself, the best wines will linger long after they have left the mouth. This helps the drinker to determine when, or even if, he should take the next sip. You may want to have a glossary of wine tasting terms queued up on your smart phone. Some terms are self explanatory like smokey, oaky, and fruity. Other descriptive words like angular (a dominant, tart flavor), buttery (used to describe high quality white wines, perhaps a Chardonnay), and maderized (when a red wine turns brownish from oxidation) are all words you will have to pick up over time, making a glossary a handy tool.
So next time you go wine tasting with you bros (or especially with a lady friend) you can impress everyone with your ability to properly enjoy and quantify the greatness of a wine.