How To Taste Wine; An Introduction To The Art Of True Wine Appreciation
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How To Taste Wine; An Introduction To The Art Of True Wine Appreciation

A brief guide on how to appreciate a bottle of wine, including making the most out of the various trapped aromas and flavours.

This guide is an introduction to the art of true wine appreciation, not only a guide for how to taste wine, as wine appreciation comes from other senses also, namely those of sight and smell.

The first thing one should do with a glass of wine is attempt to view it against a white background, so as to not confuse the colour. If the wine is red, the colour can give a wonderful indication as to how old the wine is. The majority of red wines do not start their lives red, but rather as a darker shade of purple. As the wine ages, it tends to lose the purple intensity and insteads starts to take on a paler red colour, eventually progressing to the more familiar dark red we know and see in most bottles. The colour of the red wine not only gives an indication as to its age, but can also point towards the grapes used. Different grapes tend to produce different colours, each of varying intensities. White wine, on the other hand, tends to be judged differently. Generally, as a white wine ages - unlike a red wine - it tends to become paler.

After examining the wine with one’s eyes, one should then introduce the sense of smell. Astonishingly, it has been suggested that the majority of what we taste, possibly up to 80%, is actually due to our sense of smell. Proceed to swirl the glass gently in your hand, creating a circular motion, making sure the wine strikes the side of the glass. This should increase the intensity of aroma released by the wine, thus aiding one when smelling the wine. Once swirled sufficiently, one should stick one’s nose deep into the glass; then take a large whiff. Try to identify the primary smells at first. These are related to the grape and tend to be more prominent in younger wines. Pick out the fruits which are present, take your time. Once the primary aromas have been identified, try and seek out the less prominent secondary aromas. These tend to be more earthly in smell, one might, for example, be able to identify a spicy scent, or even the musty gathering of a well corked wine.

Finally, one must taste the wine. Do not take a large gulp, but rather a conservative sip, allowing the wine to rest upon your tongue. Vigorously swirl the wine around your mouth, allowing it to infect your every taste bud. Do inhale through the nose as tasting the wine, as it is the sense of smell that contributes, largely, to the taste. Some choose to pucker their lips when tasting, allowing air to enter through the mouth. After allowing the wine to explore your mouth for some twenty seconds or so, swallow the wine. 

With a free mouth, you will immediately sense a plethora of properties of the wine. Ascertain the acidity of the wine. The acidity can be sensed on the sides of the tongue . Contrast the acidity with the sweetness; tasted on the tip of te tongue. A sweet tasting wine is a result of the remaining sugar in the grapes which is left over after they have fermented. Review the alcohol content. This can be sensed towards the back of the throat. As a general rule; the more sugar there is in the grapes, the higher the alcohol. Wines from warmer countries tend to produce sweeter grapes and, as a consequence, more alcoholic wines. Feel for the Tannin, which can be detected in the tastebuds at the back of the tongue. Most often found in red wines, this comes from the grapes skins and their pips. It usually will have a drying effect on the mouth. Try to take all these factors into consideration when deciding the balance of the wine. A good wine is said to be mature when the balance between acidity, tannins, sweetness etc. is just right.

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Comments (1)

Very nice introduction to tasting wine.

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