Red Wine, Rosé Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

How I Taste Wine

September 20, 2015

I’ve talked in the past about how to taste wine in general, but it recently occurred to me that I haven’t talked about how I, specifically, go about tasting a new wine.

UNTIL NOW

I should preface this by saying that this isn’t how I taste wine every time I open a bottle. There are definitely some days where I come home from work, pour myself a glass, and turn my brain off as I laze back on the couch, happy that the day is over. In those instances the wine is merely there as a delicious cherry on top of a relaxing, television-filled evening. I mean cake. Or something.

But when I am being intentional about my wine, when I really want to get to know it, this is how I taste.

 

How I Taste

  • I don’t usually pair food with the wine. Some might think this is an error, but when I’m meeting a wine for the first time I want to meet just the wine, not how the wine affects or is affected by food. It’s like meeting a blind date – I want to know how they act around me before getting to know how they act at a party.
  • I’m usually alone. Sad, I know! There are many people in my life who share my love of wine, but I can’t always find someone to sample a new bottle with me on a random Tuesday night.
  • I usually do it at home, on the couch, in front of the tv, with my macbook in front of me, jotting down anything that comes to mind as I sip, sniff and swirl.
  • I start by looking at the colour. I love wines that are so dark they become opaque, and ones that take on a purpleish tone – Malbecs and Carménères from Chile and Argentina often look like this.
  • Then I give the wine a good sniff. Often when I’m tasting I’ve just opened a bottle so getting something off the nose is a challenge for me. I often feel like I should pour the glass and let it sit for a bit, but in all honesty I’m an incredibly impatient person and can’t usually resist starting the process once the wine is poured and sitting next to me.
  • Next, and FINALLY, I get to taste it! I alternate between taking quick sips and long ones because the flavour can change depending on the two. While sipping I think about and try to discern the differences in flavour depending on where on my tongue the wine is hitting. I also pay attention to the flavour I’m left with as I swallow (the finish) and how lingering the wine is once it’s gone. I love when a wine stays with you!

 

Let’s be real. Some days I can’t get past ‘yep, tastes like wine’. And actually, I read an article recently that mentioned a study where they concluded that you can’t really taste more than three or four things in one go. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel MUCH better about times when I’m able to get much off a wine.

That being said, I do love the endless possibilities of flavour and enjoyment that come with each bottle. It’s a game I like to play. What am I actually tasting here? What’s going on on my tongue right now? And when I get stuck (because I do get stuck – OFTEN!) I do as Jancis Robinson says and try to pay attention to the dimensions of the wine, asking myself “how tough/tart/powerful/sweet/ready is it?”

I try to be methodical about tasting, mostly because I get a kick out of that process and am genuinely interested in the world of wine, with all its complications and vagaries.

 

I’m nowhere near these guys though, they take tasting to a whole other level. Underripe green mango? Crushed hillside?? FRESHLY OPENED CAN OF TENNIS BALLS?! COME ON!!

No, I fully acknowledge that the only real question worth asking is – do I like it? The rest is simply learning ways of learning whether you do/don’t or will/won’t like a wine.

So really, it’s not that complicated after all.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Chelle September 20, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    lol loved this.

    ” ‘yep, tastes like wine’.” Yeah… that’s me! 😀 I think the furthest I get is “that is WAY TOO DAMN SWEET”!

    • Reply meg September 21, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Everyone starts somewhere! There’s a running joke between my stepdad and I about tasting violets in wine. He says he’ll never forget the first time he did, and I think ‘what the hell, man! that is some next level stuff right there’. I’m not worthy. 🙂

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