Step-by-step wine tasting for beginners
Have you ever glanced at a wine menu and felt overwhelmed by the vast selection of wines? Wine tasting can seem like a pretentious and complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. Below is a step-by-step guide to tasting so you can understand and appreciate your wine.
1. Admire Wine should be admired from start to finish, and it starts with appreciating its color, viscosity, and transparency. Unlike other beverages, it’s one of the few drinks that comes in a wide range of colors, from the lightest gold to the richest plum. Its color alone can indicate which type of wine you’re drinking.
• Hold the glass up to the light. Is it clear and bubbly? Does it emit a soft glow? Is it thick and opaque?
• The Marangoni Effect. Gently swirl the wine in your glass. This not only aerates the wine, but it also gives you a view of droplets descending the glass. This is known as the “Marangoni Effect.” The thickness of the droplets and the speed of which they fall down the glass indicates its viscosity and alcohol content. High-alcohol wines produce thicker tears that fall slowly, while lighter wines have thin, transparent droplets that descend quickly.
2. Smell Tip the glass toward your face slightly and lower your nose into the glass. Take a sniff and experience the various aromas of the wine. If you have a poor sense of smell or you’re more of a visual thinker, close your eyes. Closing your eyes eliminates other sensory distractions and allows you to visualize the smells you’re experiencing. The aromas, known as the bouquet, may bring up images of fruits, earth, honey, and other complex flavors. If your nose isn’t yet trained, try to identify three to five aromas to start.
3. Taste This is what you’ve been waiting for. The tongue is a sensitive organ and each part detects different tastes. Sip a small amount of wine and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. Let it swirl around each section of your tongue to experience the full array of flavors in the wine. Identify these tastes on each part of your tongue:
• Tip of your tongue: sweetness • Upper edges of the tongue: acidity • Back of the tongue: bitterness • Back of the mouth: burning sensation of alcohol • Inside the cheeks: dry tannins
Your tongue also senses texture. The viscosity and alcohol content of your wine will determine how it feels. Higher alcohol content wines have a thicker texture, and tannins feel dry. Identify tastes over the length of time it sits in your mouth as well as the aftertaste.
4. Take Notes Write down all that you observed, including sight, smell, taste, and texture. Take notes on anything you liked or disliked about the wine, whether it was too bitter, too sweet, or just right. A balanced wine doesn’t have any outstanding features that overwhelm the palate and has a smooth finish. Use these notes to help you understand your preferences as you develop your sense of taste in the future.
Wine tasting is all about having fun. Go to a tasting room with friends or visit a winery to learn all there is to know about the taste, production, and history of wine. Keep tasting, and you’ll be a wine aficionado in no time.