Do you like red wine or white wine? We all have our favourites, some are loyal to their reds while others are to white wines. But the imperative question is do you know the basics of wine tasting? You might have a fair idea but for someone who is new to the wine world and want to explore it should start from the basics of wine tasting. Don’t fret! We are going to enlighten you on how to taste wine for the first time. It’s easy, you just have to know the steps and you are set for it.
Basically, wine tasting involves four steps. Look, smell and taste followed by conclusion.
Before you sniff or taste the wine, the first step is to look at the wine. There are different shapes of glasses for every wine. We won’t confuse you with the glasses now. First, you have to decide which wine are you willing to taste at first? Is it red or white? A full-bodied or a light-bodied wine. It will be helpful if you know a few terms beforehand so that you will understand it better.
Just hold the glass in your hand and look at the colour of the wine. If you chose to start with red wine, you can expect dark colours. The ideal way to see is against a white background, it aids clarity. You have to look at the edges, it will tell you the hues. Whereas white wines are concerned, they appear yellow in colour and turn brown as they age. You’ll often find droplets of wine if you give it a slight twirl. The droplets are formed on the rim. If the colour intensity of wine is dense then wine would be an opaque wine. A wine with low colour intensity would be transparent.
After you have figured out the colour of the wine, the next step obviously is to smell the wine. You have to really put your nose inside the glass. You will be perplexed as there will be many aromas hitting you hard. At one point, you’ll think its strawberry or blackcurrant or any other berries. Even if you know all the berries, it will be difficult to determine the true aromas at the beginning. To ease the process, the aromas which can be divided into primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary aromas involve floral, fruit and herb notes. The fermentation process is responsible for the secondary aromas, you can expect old beer, cheese rind. If a wine has undergone the malolactic fermentation process, fragrances of sour cream and yogurt. Tertiary aromas are the result of aging wine in a bottle or in oak. It constitutes vanilla, roasted nuts, tobacco and cedar hints.
It’s funny how our brains work. It will pick the aromas that we have smelled before or quite frequently. If you could ask 5 people to smell a wine, their answers would be different from each other.
Finally, you have reached the most crucial step of wine tasting, take a sip of the wine and don’t swallow it immediately. Roll it over in your mouth and try to exhale through your nose, so that you can be clearer of aromas and also it will make your taste buds and sense of smell act together. Various flavours would be encountered, sweet, sour or bitter, depending upon the wine variety. There are other things that you will feel, such as tannins. The drying sensation that you feel is the result of tannins. They are found in the grape skins and are also contributed through oak aging. These are found in red wines because red wines undergo fermentation process with their skins intact. Hence, tannins in red wines. White wines are fermented without skins, that’s why you’ll not find tannins in white wines. Another aspect is acidity, some reds have bold tannins as well as are high in acidity. Otherwise, acidity plays an important role in white wines. They are crisp and refreshing in nature.
At last, you can draw your conclusion. We know what you’re thinking, you are on your first wine tasting experience. Your opinion is not going to matter. We suggest you do jot it down on a piece of paper so that you can keep them to track your progress in future. With time you will be able to determine the age of a wine, depending upon its taste, smell and look. We know the older the wine, the better it is but red wines usually lose their colour with age.
If you try them with food, your view or opinion is bound to change. As a rule of thumb, red wines are well-paired with red meats and white wines with white meats. We know food-pairing is a much deeper concept. But for beginner’s this rule will help. So, red meats go exceptionally with red wines and with white wines due to its crisp and refreshing acidity, go perfectly with lighter meats such as seafood or a salad. We hope your wine tasting skills would enhance with time and you would rise as a champion. You can become a professional in wine tasting too if it interests you. Many people have pursued a course in oenology and started their careers in winemaking. Maybe you can pursue too if it excites you.
While you are searching for a place for your wine tasting experience, you should look for wine regions and their most popular wines. So that you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Many wine brands have different labels, offering wines of different characteristics. You will get to know more about these ranges. It would be perfect, you can plan your next weekend getaway with your friends or family and enjoy the scenic beauty, food (made with local produce) and taste some great wines.