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.
It may seem impossible, but there will be a billion bottle shortage of wine in the world in 2013. Bad weather is set to result in wine production falling to its lowest level since records began this year, with France set to lose its status as the world’s largest provider.
The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) predict that wine production will fall from 264.2 million hectolitres in 2011 to 248.2 million hectolitres this year. This compares unfavourably to current worldwide demand, estimated at between 235.7 million hectolitres and 249.4 million hectolitres. An additional 30 million hectolitres of wine is used to make spirits, vermouth and vinegar.
In early November 2012, Bertrand Girand, chief executive of Groupe Val d’Orbieu, France’s biggest wine cooperative, said the world faced a wine shortage of at least 10 million hectolitres, the equivalent of 1.3 billion bottles. “Spain has zero stocks,”he said. “Italy has zero stocks. We no longer have stocks to bridge the gap. We have no more entry-level wine.”
France has been particularly hard hit by bad weather in 2012 and the harvest was badly affected by winter drought, cold and wet weather, hailstorms and a heat wave. Production in France is expected to fall by almost a fifth (19 per cent) in 2012, and Italy is set to overtake the home of Beaujolais as the world’s biggest winemaker in 2013.
Production has also fallen in Argentina, Italy, Spain and New Zealand this year. Federico Castellucci, the OIV’s director general, told a press conference in Paris: “We’re dipping into the reserves for supply.”
So, how will a wine shortage affect you? Firstly, you can expect to see a rise in some prices. Victor Magalhaes, an OIV statistician, said: “If we don’t have availability in the market, there’s a strong chance some products will increase in price.”
You may also encounter difficulty in finding certain wines. Mr Magalhaes said that some of the French wines protected by thedesignation of origin label, such as Burgundy, were already suffering a shortage.
With a billion bottle shortage set to hit next year and prices set to rise, it is wise to stock up now. One of our favourite wines is our Diez Siglos Verdejo, Rueda 2011. This lovely Spanish white has complex aromas of fresh grass, nettle, passion fruit, tangerine oil and citrus. It boasts a rounded and complex palate with savoury hints and grapefruit marmalade to finish and is available at just £6.50 a bottle.
If you prefer red, how about our 2010 58 Guineas Claret? This round, medium-bodied wine perfectly balances flavours of youthful red fruit with a claret backbone. And, it was awarded a Gold Medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2012.
If you want to avoid paying more for your wine in 2013, stock up now. Order a case today on (01476) 860257 and get free delivery of wine in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire.
- Wine prices set to rise after poor grape harvest, warns Majestic boss (guardian.co.uk)
- World Wine Production Falls (gilescadman.vg)
- Global wine production hits 37-year low (thedrinksbusiness.com)