Wine tasting is an ancient practice as old as its production. Starting off quite casually, this sensory examination and evaluation of wine has become a more formalised methodology over the years. Although wine tasting can seem like a prestigious activity, the core of the practice is to just have a personal appreciation for the wine. If you are not sure of what to look out for when tasting wine, here are a few stages of examination you can follow to get you evaluating like a pro.
When you haven’t tasted the wines before, you will not know the consistencies of each wine. You should look at how the wines move and streak along the inside of the glass. Heavy wines will be deeper in colour and dense wines that are sweeter will leave thick viscous streaks down the inside of the glass when swirled.
The appearance of the wine will also help you determine which wine to taste first. You should always try light wines before heavier wines. Therefore, try white before red wines, as white wines tend to have a lighter flavour. Moreover, there are some cultures where tasting red before white wines is offensive towards the host. If sparkling is also an option, taste it before your still white wines. Other than that, if you are doing a full-view tasting, try younger wines before the older ones as well.
Specifically, this refers to the aromas from inside the glass, and hence why people tend to sniff inside their glass before tasting wine. Heavier wines will have a more intense aroma. Fortified wine and port wines are little lighter and have fruity flavors so they are easy to start with.
This is where the different levels of tannins in the wine can really shine for a wine taster. The sensations in your mouth from the tannins in the wine may make muscles around your mouth and throat contract a little – depending on your sensitivity. This is referred to a wine’s astringency. Tannins tend to give a more intense bitter taste to a wine.
Similarly to the way you evaluate sensations while the wine is still in your mouth, similar notes are taken in the wine’s aftertaste. Technically, the aftertaste effect occurs when your brain has not fully understood the taste being sensed. Wines of a higher quality tend to have longer finishes accompanied by pleasant aromas.
With this guide, you can have a better understanding of the characteristics to examine while tasting wine. But in regards to finding the best wine of your tasting selection, there can never be a real winner. Different wines will suit to different preferences and the most expensive wines don’t always get the majority – you can test this with a blind tasting!