Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Active tasting.

I've realized, nowhere on this blog is the procedure for tasting wine described!  Yes, actively tasting wine -- as opposed to passively drinking wine, which is what most people tend to do.

So, here's the routine I go through, which is abbreviated as "see, swirl, sniff, sip, swish, slurp, spit and/or swallow."
  1. Pour about 1 - 2 oz of wine into the glass.
  2. Look at the wine with a white backing (generally a tasting note sheet).  Note the color of the main part of the wine and the color of the rim.
  3. Swirl the wine in the glass -- coat the inside of the glass with wine, to give the maximum surface area for the aroma to develop.
  4. Sniff the wine -- both long and short sniffs.  Really get the nose into the glass, to detect aromas.  Generally, at this point, I close my eyes here, to remove visual distractions and force me to concentrate on what I smell and later taste.
  5. Sip the wine -- a little bit goes a long way.  Note the immediate flavor of the wine on the tongue; is it the same as the nose, or different?  How acidic is it, how sweet?
  6. Swish the wine all over the tongue, to get a fuller picture of the flavor profile.  Is it dry in the back?  How does it feel?  Generally, this looks like I'm chewing the wine.
  7. Slurp some air over the wine; this allows the aromas to work up through the sinuses onto the olfactory bulb -- which is where 90% of what you "taste" really is noted (ever notice that when you can't smell stuff, everything tastes bland? That's why.).
  8. Spit -- if I'm at a tasting, where I may be tasting multiple wines in a row, as the alcohol in the wine will dull the senses.  Of course, at home, I swallow.
Note that this is real, active tasting.  That is how you people find "a hint of mint, and some creme de cassis" in a wine.  The best thing to do, to learn to pick out these kinds of flavors, is to actively taste everything.

Yes, you can even actively taste milk.  And water.  And soda.  And steak.

Image from Wine-Community.It.

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