Perhaps you simply desire an unusual weeknight or weekend diversion. Perhaps wine has grown into a hobby, or an obsession. Save the book learning for another time. The funnest way to learn more about wines is wine-tasting.
Drinking quantities of wine on an empty stomach may lead to embarrassment. Before you attend a wine tasting, it is best to have a meal.
Do not Wear or Create Fragrances
The sense of smell and the sense of taste are intimately related: what can and cannot be smelled will affect what can and cannot be tasted. Do yourself and the other wine-tasters a favor and skip the potent perfume or aftershave. Smoking also affects the sense of taste, and not for the better.
Design Your Tasting and Take Notes
Taste multiple wines; include classics and unfamiliar varieties. Novice tasters might begin with the whites, proceed to the lighter reds, more full-bodied reds, and finish with sweet dessert wines. More experienced tasters might spend their time in one country-or with one grape variety. Use a phone camera and note app to keep score; memories sometimes fade. These events often are informal, a perfect environment for asking questions, and winemakers love to tell of their craft. A vineyard is a particularly lovely setting for wine tasting.
Take in the Visual, and Swirl
Take just a moment to appreciate the range of colors, clarity, and body of the wine. Do not stare at the glass too long or someone may ask what you’re looking for. Swirl the wine in the glass gently.
Savor that Aroma
Why swirl, you might ask? Because the swirl brings more oxygen into contact with the wine, allowing it to “breathe”, releasing the more subtle aromas and flavors hidden within. Then take it in deeply, as the aromas will sensitize your palate for the joy to come. Tasters may discern the scent of fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, and leaves. The wine barrel in which the vintage aged may impart its own distinct character to the wine.
Enjoy the Flavor
Wine tasting is not a math equation with a single correct answer. The only proper method to discover what one does and does not like is to sample a wide selection. The novice taster might later explore why certain wines are favorites. Which flavors or aromas entice you?
Spit, Dump, Cleanse, Repeat
Wine-tasters are not expected to down every wine sample. We know where that would lead. It is customary practice for tasters to spit wine into a bucket placed conveniently for that purpose. Tasters may also take one sip and pour the rest of the glass into the bucket. Take your cues from fellow tasters; if no one is spitting, do likewise.
This brings us to the cleansing of the palate and the cleansing of the wineglass. It is recommended to cleanse the palate between wines, with a sip of water, a cracker or a bit of mild cheese. The consensus seems to be that rinsing a glass between wines is unnecessary, unless the taster is switching from white to red, dry to sweet, or had a bad batch. Rinsing with wine is ideal; rinsing with water is acceptable. Now onto the next bottle!
Wine grapes are grown on six of the seven continents, and new grape varieties are routinely developed to grow in a range of climates. So the well of good wine shall never run dry. Whether a pleasant distraction, a serious hobby, or a vocation, wine and wine tasting are stimulating affairs. Attend a wine tasting today!