Wine Tasting Etiquette
We have all seen people swirl and sniff out glasses without understanding what was happening and why. Almost every vacation I took had a wine tasting, but I was not going to be that person who interrupts the Sommelier to ask why? After every foreign action. Then the real talk comes with the “Strawberries, and the plums” when all you’re tasting is wine :’D . At the end of the tasting we all happy and bubbly, because of course wine is the recipe for happiness even though we understood nothing from that tasting.
If you’re interested in actually understanding and mastering the steps read on below”
How to taste
First you look at the appearance of the wine, is it clear? cloudy? or does it have tints of Brown? If all you see is red or white it really is not a train smash, we’re still starting out.
This is the step where you supposedly identify faults even before drinking. It could be from the wine being stored incorrectly and the wine somehow spoils.
Faulty wines will be cloudy looking with a hint of brown (PS the brown doesn’t always mean the wine is faulty unless it’s a very young wine wine, in old wines brown is a sign of long periods in oak), sometimes even the cloudiness could mean the wine wasn’t filtered before bottling. And that’s why all the tasting steps are important.
The next step is to smell the wine. Swirl it around in the glass to release all the aromas then sniff it. You might not smell the peaches as yet unless you have a very high flavour profile e.g chefs or cooks.
It takes forever to build a flavour profile especially if you do not always experiment with food. I usually ask people “what is the first thing that pops up in your mind when you smell this wine?”
Tasting experiences will differ from person to person, you don’t have to smell the roses Tom is smelling, because our flavour profiles differ according to tasting experience and sensitivity to certain flavours. We can all agree on the general things like “this is a sweet wine or dry wine”
Sweetness will be detected on the tip of the tongue. Acidity on the sides of the sides of the tongue and bitterness at the back of the tongue.
My trick is to take a mouthful of the wine and swirl it around in your mouth so it coats your whole mouth, swallow and draw in air through your lips so the vapor can be carried to the back of your nose and that’s where you’ll pick up the flavour characteristics. NB: This does not look sexy!!!
How to Pick up the components;
Most wines have sugar added for fermentation in order to feed the yeast and create alcohol, whatever sugar that remains behind is residual sugar so some may have very little amounts of sugar left in it. Almost all red & white wines are dry because they contain no or small amounts of sugar. It is a bit difficult to move from sweet to dry wines so I can suggest looking “Rieslings” or “Gerwurztraminer” which are described as “off dry. No friend of mine has not thanked me for introducing them to these 😊.
That’s what makes lemons taste sour, it causes your mouth to water. The presence of acidity makes wines taste refreshing and vibrant. Levels of Acidity are higher in white wines than red wines. An example of a high acidity wine is Sauvignon blanc, Woody Chardonnay’s are rarely acidic because it’s a buttery kind of wine and often wood cuts through acidity.
This is the taste of a very bitter “5 roses tea” where the tea bag has been left in the water for too long. Tannins are present in grape skins so the more skin contact the juice has during fermentation the higher the tannins. Grape skins also give colour. White wine and Rose wines have very little or no skin contact. An example of a wines with high tannin’s is Cabernet Sauvignon and a wine with low tanni’s is Pinot Noir.
This is the weight of the mouth feel. The richness of the wine. E.g. still water with a slice of lemon would be very light bodied and crisp whereas 5 roses tea would probably be medium to high body. This is the combination of the effects of alcohol, tannin’s and sugars and flavour compounds extracted from the skins.
Flavour characteristics are only detected once the wine leaves your mouth and the vapours stay behind.
This refers to how long the flavour linger in your mouth after the wine has been swallowed or spat out (WASTE IS NOT ADVISABLE!!!). Please note this is not the taste of alcohol that stays in your mouth. The actual flavour. If they disappear immediately it’s described as a short finish. It can be anything from a short to a long finish.
After describing your wine clearly, you can now form an assessment of the quality and whether you like the wine or not and what you liked or didn’t like.
Now go sit at that wine tasting and rock that Tasting like a wine pro 😉.
“Wine is a journey with every sip” – Simphiwe Malepe
Hi I am Simphiwe Malepe . Welcome to my lifestyle blog. I am passionate about topics that allow humans (Mostly Women) to grow spiritually and mentally. I love cooking, drinking wine and educating people about my passions in an unconventional way.