Wine Tasting Tips from Napa Pros
1. View the color of the wine in your glass.
Taking a few seconds to view the wine in your glass is an important step in anticipating what you are about to taste. We unconsciously do this with all our food and drink; we anticipate what we are about to consume. Viewing wine may make you think about citrus, berries, tropical fruits or tree fruits and set the stage for what you will taste.
2. Swirl wine in the glass. There is a practical snob-free reason to swirl wine in the glass.
The more oxygen that mixes with the wine by swirling, the more elements of the wine’s fragrance or “bouquet” will be released. This will enhance your experience.
Most people have learned to swirl wine in a circular motion, with the glass in an upright position, but this does very little to open the bouquet. One of the most innovative approaches I’ve seen at a winery exposes the wine even more by coating the glass:
- Have only one ounce of wine in the glass. Don’t overfill the glass! Remember, you’re exploring new tastes with this approach.
- Holding the glass in one hand, tilt it at a 45 degree angle.
- With your other hand on the base of the glass, rotate the glass five times coating the glass with the wine.
This will expose more wine to the surface of the glass (like a decanter) than any other method of swirling. This adds the equivalent of a few years of aging to the wine and will fully open up the wine bouquet.
3. Sniff the now released bouquet.
Just as viewing the wine before sniffing triggers visual associations with what is to come, so sniffing the bouquet also affects your experience of the wine’s taste. Our sense of smell is intricately tied to what we taste. Eighty percent of taste is aroma. So take a good sniff of that wine before you taste it. What you smell will be consistent with what you viewed earlier.
4. Take three sips of the wine.
The first sip will not give you the real taste of the wine. It will only prepare you for what’s to come. This is because the first sip will still have what remains in your mouth from previous meals, your last bite of food or what you drank last. The second and third sips will give you the real taste of the wine. This is why we suggest an adventurous wine taster take three sips to fully appreciate the wine flavor.
5. Enjoy and savor the wine.
Take a few moments to think about what you just experienced.
- Was the wine light, medium or full-bodied? (Compare to skim milk, whole milk or heavy cream.)
- For white wine did you taste the acidity?
- For red wine was the tannin too strong (or “astringent”), pleasing, or missing altogether?
- How long did the aftertaste or (finish) last?
- What was the strongest taste you registered? Sugar? Fruit? Acid? or Tannin?
- Was the wine balanced (acidity, tannin, sweetness)?
- What kind of food can you pair with this wine? Wine is often better when paired with food.
- Is this wine worth the asking price?
- Is this wine your “style”? Did you like it?
To view sample book pages and purchase the book, go to www.snobfreewinetasting.com.