Ok so you’ve made the big step forward in your life to start to fully appreciate wine – nicely done! Now, as you move into your wine journey, use these ‘The 5 Easy Steps to Tasting Wine’ to make learning about and remembering wines easier and more effective for your brain. Using your senses is the best way to enhance your memory and rely on your first instincts when it comes to appreciation and developing your own wine story (more on how to do this in a later post!)
Step 1. Sight
Look and appreciate the colour of the wine. Think of wine as you would a piece of art. Make sure to use beautiful and polished glassware to bring out the tones and subtle nuances of each colour you see. All wine gets colour from grape skins and you can tell a lot about wine from its colour – white wine gets darker with age and red wines get lighter with age. Most white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are light in colour as they are aged in stainless steel tanks. Chardonnay that has been oaked will have a darker yellow colour from the increased time with oxygen from the porous oak barrels. Contact with red grape skins changes the colour of the wine from shades of rosé, to light red and to dark purple. For instance, Pinot Noir will be a lighter wine because of its thinner skins and Cabernet will be darker as it will spend more time on its skins making it fuller bodied and deeper in colour.
Step 2. Swirl
Make swirling (which may take some practice to master) a habit – become a master at it and you’ll impress your friends. Not only is it fun, but it also serves a very important purpose. Swirling allows oxygen/air to enter into the wine, and helps to release all the aromas and prepares the wine in your glass for the next step – smell. When you become a pro at this you might even start to swirl your breakfast orange juice!
Step 3. Smell
After swirling, stick your nose into the glass and try to identify the scents of the wine. At first you may only smell the wine as whole, but challenge yourself. Try to pinpoint some specific aromas such as citrus, spice or vanilla. Talk about what you smell. Take a look at an aroma wheel to help guide you and get comfortable feeling uncomfortable – this is the hardest step! It’s easier to learn more at this step by hanging out with wine loving friends, you’ll all have a different language to define your aromas so it’s about being open and non-judgmental. We all have different ways of describing what we smell. Check out the aroma wheel below as a great starting point to develop your vocabulary.
Step 4. Sip
Never judge a wine by your first sip. In fact, use your first sip as more of a mouth wash for your palate to prep you for your second and third sips. Take the next few sips and make sure your entire palate feels the wine. Think about the wine. Enjoy its texture and weight. Take note of the tannin, bitterness, oak, sweetness and acidity. A wine can be light bodied like skim milk or full bodied like cream – pay attention to what and how you feel on your palate.
Step 5. Savour
Challenge yourself after drinking a glass of wine on what you taste in the wine (hint – from a science perspective there are only grapes!), what the finish is like, how does your palate feel, what is your stance on the flavour. Make a call on how the wine tastes and makes you feel, is it easy drinking with a short finish or does it make you stop and think? Judge the wine from both a science and art perspective. Do you like it? Is it unusual? Is it classical in style? Is it delicious?
Learn ‘The 5 easy Steps to Tasting Wine’, and use them religiously whenever you open a bottle of wine. Need help in keeping things organized? Start a wine journal or keep track of wines you love and why on your phone through photos of the labels, or a keeping a running wine list.Find your own rating system and soon enough you’ll build your own wine confidence starting with owning your own palate. Over time your preferences are likely to change, so take note and appreciate the journey – it will likely be one that lasts your whole life long!
If you’re looking to learn more follow me @SuperWineGirl on Instagram and feel free to direct message me for any wine related questions.