It’s always handy to have a quick review on the steps of one of our favorite activities: wine tasting! Each step of the wine tasting process allows the person drinking the wine to fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of the wine. Once you’ve uncorked a gorgeous bottle, what steps come next?
Wine Tasting Step #1: See
Watch as the wine is poured into the glass. Different elements of the color will become apparent as the wine is poured. Holding the glass by the stem, hold the glass up to the light. By keeping your warm hands away from the bowl, you prevent your fingers from heating up the wine, which can cause a brash alcohol flavor, which may disguise the more subtle flavors hiding in your glass.
The color of the wine can reveal a great deal about the wine. Different grape varieties can produce different wine colors. For example, a Pinot Noir will look nothing like the deep, intense red of a Cabernet Sauvignon. The intensity of the color can cue the observer to how light or heavy the wine may be. Looking carefully, a slight blue hue may indicate the level of acidity.
The opacity of the wine can also yield important clues. For example, an unfined wine like the Walla Faces Cabernet Sauvignons will be much deeper and more opaque than fined wines, like the Fusion Red. Looking at the Fusion’s rim variation, the gradation of color at the edge of the wine, can help the viewers predict its clarity and smoothness. The opacity of the Cabernets suggests that they will be more full-bodied, with great tannins. As they age over the next few years, they will also gain some brown rim variation.
Wine Tasting Step #2: Swirl
Holding the wine glass at the base, swirl the wine. This allows the wine to oxygenate a bit, revealing the true aromas of the wine.
In addition, the aromatic compounds of the wine are released into the air, making them easier to smell.
Wine Tasting Step #3: Smell
Anyone who has ever had a cold knows that tasting is mostly scent. When your nose is plugged up, it’s impossible to taste your dinner, let alone your wine. Wine connoisseurs have known the importance of your sense of smell for centuries.
To smell your wine, stick your nose into the glass and take a deep inhale. Try to determine what flavors you are smelling. Is the wine spicy? Pungent? Floral? Take a few good sniffs, and be sure to compare your first and second impressions.
Wine Tasting Step #4: Sip
Of course, if you are doing a wine tasting, you have to taste some wine! Start with a small sip to cleanse your palate. Next, allow the wine to hit all parts of your tongue. Different parts of your mouth will reveal different flavors. If you like, you can slurp the wine in your mouth, allowing for even more oxygenation.
The wine will change in your mouth. The first phase of wine tasting is called the attack phase, where the alcohol, tannins, acidity, and residual sugar are clear. Next, in the evolution phase, the flavor profile of the wine comes out.
Wine Tasting Step #5: Swallow
There aren’t very fancy instruction for swallowing! Be sure to note how long the finish remains in your mouth. Some wines will persist on your palate, whereas others will have a more short-lived finish.
Of course, don’t forget the more important wine tasting step!: savor and enjoy the wonderful wines you had the opportunity to try!