Everyone loves to try a new wine. Whether you’re opening a new bottle in the comfort of your home or you’re in a far flung location at a winery or vineyard, there’s nothing nicer than trying a brand new merlot, chardonnay or rosé.
But, wine tasting isn’t as simple as opening a bottle and taking a swig. There is an art to wine tasting, and here’s our four top tips to help you get more from your wine tasting experience.
1. Check the conditions for the tasting
As odd as it may sound, there are ideal conditions for tasting wine. For example, it’s hard to concentrate in a crowded or noisy environment with strong smells of cooking or animals. It’s difficult to accurately assess wine if it is served at too high or low a temperature. And, it’s hard to make an unbiased assessment if you have residual flavours in your mouth from something you have been eating or drinking.
Try to find a quiet, neutral environment and, if a wine is too cold, warm it by cupping the glass. Also, try to cleanse your palate before tasting.
2. Use your eyes
Before you taste the wine, it is important for you to take a good look at it. Why? Well, the colour of the wine helps you identify the grape variety as well as the density and saturation of the wine.
A murky wine might have some chemical or fermentation problems while it’s a good sign if a wine looks brilliant and clear. And, examining how the wine thins out towards the edge of the glass gives you some idea of the age and weight of the wine.
3. Use your nose
Before you taste, swirl the wine around in the glass. This releases the wine’s bouquet and you should take a few short, sharp sniffs of the wine. Don’t bury your nose in the glass: WineEnthusiast magazine suggests you ‘hover over the top like a helicopter pilot surveying rush hour traffic’.
You’re checking that the wine hasn’t any flaws or is spoiled, and then use your sense of smell to identify flavours. Trying to spot the flavours from the smell helps you focus on, understand and retain your impressions of different wines.
4. Don’t fill your glass and drink it all
During a wine tasting, it’s very tempting to pour yourself a large glass and eagerly drink most or all of it. Actually, you should fill your glass no more than one third full. This allows you to swirl the wine around the glass and for the flavours to fully develop.
If you taste a lot of wine in a session then sipping and spitting may also be advisable. Spitting everything and then enjoying a glass or two with a meal or at the end of the night is the best way to fully enjoy new wines.