“Unleash your senses and reveal the exquisite flavors in one glass of wine.”
Pour yourself a glass of wine into a stemmed wine glass and tilt the glass away from you, towards a source of light. What do you observe?
If it’s a red wine the range of colors you observe might include maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even shades of brown!
White wines can be clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown in appearance.
If you’ve never studied a wine’s color, or, if lately, your haven’t applied a discerning eye to the color of the wine you are drinking, you likely missing out on several of the pleasures of wine. Slow down for just a moment and you will likely increase your enjoyment.
Once you’ve established the wine’s color, look into the wine’s clarity and opacity. Is the wine watery or dark, translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear? Older red wine tends to be more translucent than younger red wines. Noble (older, more full-bodied) wines that have been shaken before pouring may lack clarity as a result of dispersing sediment into the wine. That is why, in some situations, it makes sense to “decant” the wine before pouring it into wine glasses – so that sediment from the bottom of the wine bottle – do not escape into the wine in the glass.
Next, place your nose into the opening of the wine glass and take a deep breath. You can do this more than once. You may choose to slowly exhale a small volume of air, warmed by your lungs, into the glass and then draw that air back into your nose. This may help to vaporize the wine a bit more.
Does the aroma give off an aroma of oak? It might if it spent time in oak barrels (versus stainless steel tanks). Do it exude hints of berry smell or flowers or vanilla or citrus? Don’t “smell the review” of the wine. Smell it for yourself. If you don’t smell distinct “aromatic notes” it may be that your sensory ability is impaired or that the bottle you purchase is impaired, due to “aging out” or poor storage practices or any number of other reasons.
Finally, tilt your glass of wine and take a small sip. Let it touch the tip of your tongue. Then let the wine roll across your tongue, exposing it to all your available taste buds.
Learn to enjoy the three stages of Wine Tasting: the “attack phase”, the “evolution phase” and “the finish”.
- Attack Phase: What’s the initial sensation on your palate? The Attack is comprised of four parts: alcohol content, tannin level, acidity and residual sugar.
In a good bottle of wine, these components exist in delicate balance, none overwhelming the other.
The wine tasting “attack phase” encompasses the sensations of a light or heavy, sweet or dry, soft or firm wine.
- Evolution Phase: What are you actually tasting. The evolution phase might be considered the actual taste of the wine.
When drinking white wine, this phase may include fruity or floral flavors, such as apple, pear, honey, spices and more.
When drinking red wine, more intense flavors – such as berries, plum, minerals, wood (oak, etc) may be part of your experience.
- The Finish: As the wine passes over the back of your tongue, as it’s about to enter your throat, do you notice any new tastes or sensations? How long does the flavor – the experience of the wine – remain after you’ve swallowed the wine? Does it linger? Is the aftertaste different or similar to the full flavor you just experienced? What was the last flavor you enjoyed?
If you slow down to more fully taste and experience the wine you are drinking you will either enhance your enjoyment of the wine you selected or you will realize that your wine selection skills may be in need of improvement.
photo by pedrosimoes7on flickr