Wine Tasting Like a Pro
Many people avoid the pleasure of wine tasting for fear of drinking too much. Not only is it dangerous and irresponsible to drink and drive, it is difficult to remember what you have tasted. By utilizing the techniques of professional wine tasters, you can spend a day visiting wineries while at the same time remain safe and sober. Professional wine tasters use what is known as the five S’s of tasting. These are See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Swish, and Spit. Yes you heard right, Spit! Your mother always told you it was impolite to spit but when it comes to wine tasting, it is completely acceptable, and we will teach you to do it with class.
Let’s start with the first step. Once you have the wine in the glass, hold it against a light background and observe the color and clarity. With the exception of aged wines that have not been properly decanted, wine should be clear and free from floating particles. White wines usually range from brilliant to deep amber in the case of oak aged Chardonnay and Rieslings. You should be able to read a printed page easily through the glass. Red wine will range from light red to deep purple for new wine and brick red sometimes with an orange ring for aged wine.
Once you have observed the color and clarity, place the glass on a firm surface and swirl the wine in a circular motion for three or four seconds and bring the glass to your nose. Take in the nuances of the wine. What kind of fruit do you smell? Are there notes of herbs or minerals. Experience will make your nose more sensitive to the subtle complexities of wine and make you a better wine taster. Our advice… Practice, Practice, Practice.
Now that you have smell the wine, take a sip and swish the wine around in your mouth for a few seconds letting the wine contact all of your mouth’s surfaces. You taste different things in each area primarily, sweetness can be tasted on the tip of the tongue. Sour and bitterness is noted on the top and rear. Acidity can be felt on the sides and under the tongue. Wines heavy in tannin is noticed by an overall sensation of dryness in the mouth.
The final step in tasting wine like a professional is the spit. While common in Europe, it is not a typical sight in American wineries. We have found a simple yet discrete solution which is far more sanitary than expectorating into a counter top spittoon. Take a plastic cup into the winery and use it to expel the wine once you have tasted it. I hear many of you asking, “why would I spit out perfectly good wine?” While we know it is difficult and perhaps embarrassing to do, we guarantee that it will allow you to reap the full benefits of your wine tasting experience without the risk of becoming intoxicated.
You now have the basic tools you need to taste wine like a pro. Spitting, it’s not just for athletes! We’ll see you at the wineries.