While it is true that many people generally consider wine as among life’s “finer things,” there is no need for this to intimidate you. If you’ve taken an interest in learning how to better taste and appreciate wine, there are simple tips you can follow to help refine your palate and sharpen your wine tasting skills.
These seemingly simple wine appreciation “S” words will get you started on your quest towards discovering the wonderful world of wine and have you feeling like an honorary sommelier.
While you are honing your skills, it is best to do so in an environment that is beneficial to your efforts. Too much noise, for instance may distract you from tuning in to your wine sensibilities. You need a good setting in which you can concentrate on enjoying the wine and all its beautiful intricacies.
The colour is the first thing you’ll want to examine, in wine. Take note of the appearance, also known as the wine’s robe or dress. Observe the intensity and hues of its colour, as these will clue you in to the wine’s place of origin and the conditions in which it was grown. This likewise gives you an idea of how the wine will taste. Though most sommeliers can pinpoint all these characteristics in just a few seconds, give yourself some time to get the hang of it. Check the wine’s label, as well, for properties such as alcohol level, vintage year and country of origin.
Ever notice how wine lovers and experts swirl their wine around in the glass? This is the next step. Swirling the wine reveals how viscous it is, and is a good indicator of the wine’s sugar level. This also allows the wine to “breathe,” which does wonders for releasing its aroma and flavour. Gently swirl the wine around in the glass – have a look at the tears or droplets that form and trickle down the inside of the glass after you swirl it. These wine “legs” – which is another term the experts like to use – reveal the wine’s sugar content. In general, the slower moving the legs, the higher the sugar content of the wine, and vice versa.
You will now want to take note of the wine’s aroma. Go ahead and sniff your glass of wine; no one will think it rude! This is how you discover a wine’s “nose.” Do the “first nose” or first whiff without swirling the glass, so you can smell the wine’s primary aromas. Then go ahead and give your glass a swirl, to inhale the “second nose,” which reveals the secondary aromas of the wine. Interestingly enough, as well, each side of your nose will pick up different aromas, as each of your nostrils connects to a different side of your brain. Also, scent can be quite subjective, so do not fret if your nose picks up on slightly different aromas from another person’s observations
Here comes the best part; go ahead and taste the wine. Don’t swallow it, just yet. Let the wine sit in your mouth and coat your palate. Allow it to envelop your taste buds, as you taste the flavour within the wine. Take note of the wine’s acidity, its sweetness, its crispness and smoothness, among other things. As you do this, try to suck some air into your mouth, to fully release the wine’s flavour. It’s okay to make some noise, as you do!
Go ahead and swallow the wine and notice how long its taste and aftertaste linger on your palate. Savour and enjoy the wine’s “finish.” This finish brings you to the last step in appreciating your glass of wine.
Remember, developing your wine smarts may take some time, but the process is well-worth your effort and will help you truly appreciate good wine. If you want to further develop your skill, try visiting places which offer wine-tasting activities. For starters, you may refer to the Margaret River winery map to find the best spots to taste good wine.