A greater understanding of tasting and appreciating wine can certainly enhance your enjoyment of it. Tasting is not only important for finished wines, but also critical during the winemaking process. For consumers, rather than correctly identifying a wine’s varietal character and/or provenance, tasting should be about exploring and expressing your preferences. Experiencing wine with food is really engaging wine in its preferred natural habitat – the fun is in trying and having an opinion. Wine, although sometimes elevated to a position of cultural reverence, is above all made for drinking and for pleasure.
Step One – Look:
- Clarity is an indication of the character and condition of the wine.
- Colour (intensity and hue) should be assessed. Colour can help determine the variety and/or age of the wine. Red wine goes from red to brown as it ages, white wine from light green/yellow to gold.
- The ‘tears’ left on the inside side of the glass after swirling can be indicative of the amount of glycerol and alcohol present in the wine.
Step Two – Smell:
- Inhale and try and identify as many flavour compounds as possible.
- Aromas refer to smells derived from grapes and include fruit descriptors (for example lemon) and herbs and spices.
- Bouquet refers to smells derived from the winemaking process such as characters formed by yeasts, specific fermentation techniques or type and size of maturation vessel.
Step Three – Taste:
- The texture of a wine can provide clues as to how the wine is made.
- Progression of flavour from when the wine enters your mouth to after you swallow, is an indicator of the quality of the wine. A long aftertaste is generally a positive indication of quality.
- After looking, smelling and tasting, make an overall assessment of the wine – a lasting impression of harmony and balance is considered desirable and easiest to enjoy.