Advanced Tips on How to Taste Wine

Drinking wine is a pleasure. Buying the perfect wine for your palate is an art, and not many people know how to do so properly. This is known as the art of wine tasting, and it involves three of your senses — sight, smell, and taste.

Would you know what to buy for a beginner, or what to pick for someone who is a wine connoisseur? Do you know what makes Chardonnay a buttery wine, or how a fruity Merlot tastes? Do you know what gives Shiraz a spicy aftertaste, and most importantly, how to pair different varieties of wine with food? If you perfect the art of wine tasting, you will know how to answer all of the above, and also enjoy wine a lot more.

If you think that just pouring wine into a fancy glass, and twirling it before you taste it makes you look like a wine lover, you’re wrong. Whether you are a wine lover who likes to pamper your taste buds, or a beginner who wants to develop a palate for wine, there is much more that you need to know than just how to sip wine and hold the glass.

There are many different varieties of wine, coming from different parts of the world. If you have ever visited Napa Valley, a county famous for its 500+ wineries, you know what we’re talking about.

The finest varieties of wine include:

  • Syrah
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Zinfandel
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Barbera
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Gris
  • Moscato
  • Semillon
  • Malbec
  • Nebbiolo
  • Cabernet Franc

Every varietal offers a unique taste, color, and aroma, leaving you with a different drinking experience. For example, Syrah is a dark, and full-bodied wine which welcomes you with fruity notes, and leaves your palate with a spicy aftertaste. Pinot Noir is pale in color, with a subtle taste. Chardonnay can be an oaked white wine with a buttery taste, and comes in two varieties — ripe Chardonnay with notes of tropical fruits like guava, pineapple, and mango; and barely ripe Chardonnays with notes of lemon, and green apple. More Chardonnays are being made in stainless steel and are more austere.

Sommeliers around the world with rich wine tasting experience have devised some advanced tips for improving your wine palate, and ability to recall wines whilst you are sniffing, twirling, and sipping them. Follow the three essential tips below to master the art of wine tasting.

1. Examine the Way it Looks

With food, you first take a look at the dish, and try to gauge how it will taste. You should do the same with wine as well. The color of the wine will tell you about its approximate age, the varieties of grapes used to make it, and the amount of alcohol and sugar in it.

To do this, tilt your glass a bit and start by observing the density of color from the bottom of the glass to its center. In the case of a white wine, if the color is slightly yellowish or leaning towards brown, that wine is aged. In the case of a red wine, if the color isn’t rich and a bit transparent, it is again a matured wine.

When it comes to the alcohol and sugar content, an easy way is to swirl the glass a little, and then notice if wine “legs,” (droplets), appear on the glass walls, slowly settling down. This is a sign that the percentage of alcohol and sugar in the wine is high.

Another way that you can evaluate a wine visually is to look through the sides. Wine that sparkles when you hold the glass in light is a good wine. And, if the wine doesn’t look clear, there may be a chance that it was not fermented properly, and is unfiltered.

You don’t have to spend more than 5 seconds on this step.

2. Evaluate the Aroma

Aroma holds a lot of significance in the process of professional wine tasting. When you smell a wine, you can learn a lot about the grape variety, how the wine is treated, and the region it comes from. If you have a strong nose and a trained palate, you can also determine whether or not it is an oaked wine, how old it is, and where it is from.

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