Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guest Post: Wine Tasting 101

Good morning and Happy Saturday!  We are sadly leaving Hawaii today, but I have an exciting guest post for you while I am suffering through security.  

It is no secret that I love wine, and in turn, wine tasting.  However, I don't really know anything about it, how I should act, what I should pay attention to, etc.   So, I called in the expert,  Carrie, from Season It Already!  to show us the ropes.  Thank you Carrie, for such an awesome guest post!

Carrie headshot

Wine Tasting 101: Wine Foreplay

Anyone who knows a little bit about wine can tell you the steps of wine tasting. You can do a quick search online to find these steps, too. So I'm not going to reiterate them for you that way. Instead, I'm going to illustrate for you the best way to enjoy wine, every step of the way. 
 
One of the things I love about wine tasting is that we use all of five of our senses. By paying attention and focusing on each of those senses while tasting, you'll take wine tasting to the highest level! You'll appreciate it in a new way. It'll become a sensual, even sexy, experience. 
 
The pop of that cork (even if it isn't a bottle of bubbly) is a pretty distinct sound. On occasion, my husband will open a bottle from a room across the other end of the house and I'll come running. “Oooo! What are you opening?!” I'll say. He just shakes his head and says, “You've got a gift.” 
 
It's one of the best sounds in the world. So, yes, I have the gift of hearing.  
 
Then there is the sound of the wine being poured. That sound alone can get me salivating. 
 
I grab the glass, ready to enjoy; but I stop myself. It would be far too easy to taste it right away.  
 
Think of it as wine foreplay. 
 
The way you hold the glass matters. You don't want your hand cupping the bowl. The heat from your hand, your touch will warm the wine. Instead, hold the glass by the stem or the foot. This will also keep those pesky paw prints off your glass when you are eating finger food at a nice party. 
 
Tilt the glass. Look at the wine. Examine the color and clarity. As white wine ages, it'll get darker in color. If fermented or aged in oak, whites will also become more golden, taking on the color of the oak. Reds tend to lose color as they age, becoming browner. 
 
But really, what do you think of the color? I've heard, “Ahhh... Look at that deep red. What a gorgeous wine!” While the color can tell you a lot of variables about the wine; to enjoy it, all you need to do is admire it. 
 
Tilt the glass again. Then tilt it back. See how the wine falls down the side of the glass. The streams of wine that slide down the glass are called legs. The more pronounced the legs, the more full-bodied the wine. Sure, you could determine this now, but why not wait until you feel the wine in your mouth? 
 
Now, really get your nose in the glass and smell the wine. Close your eyes when you do it. One of our senses is heightened when we can't use another, right? By focusing on just your sense of smell, the aromas will be more apparent to you. If not right away, it just means you need to drink more more practice. And don't forget the Importance of Company. 
 
Now, give the wine a good swirl. Don't be a shy. Really move that wine around in the glass. Then smell the wine again. The alcohol should be less apparent and the wine's aromas should now jump out of the glass. Isn't it wonderful?! Smelling the wine is probably my favorite part. 
 
By now, you just really want to taste it, right? 
 
Before you do, consider the following: 
 
The first taste is never the true taste. 
 
It's a shock to your taste buds. Your mouth needs to get used to the alcohol, which at first will help cleanse your palate. Brushing your teeth just before, chewing gum, or eating the wrong food can completely throw off your taste experience with the wine! Swish the wine around in your mouth to coat all the parts of your palate on the first sip. 
 
Here, you'll use your sense of touch again when you put your lips to the glass. This is one reason why those thinner glasses always seem to make a wine taste better. Personally, I feel like I pay more attention to my wine when I'm served a Riedel or similarly-styled glass in a restaurant.   
 
As the wine touches your lips and rolls onto your tongue, a whole sensory experience begins to evolve as you taste the wine. Close your eyes again. While most of your taste really comes from your sense of smell, you can now tell if the wine is sweet, sour or bitter. If the wine leaves a dry feeling on your tongue, you are sensing the tannins.  
 
Tannins? They come from the skins, seeds and stems and are mostly found in red wines. They help preserve wines and are a reason why reds tend to age better than whites. Still unsure about tannin? Have you sipped a cup of unsweetened black tea? It has the same drying effect on your tongue. 
 
And finally, the finish. How long does the flavor last in your mouth? A longer finish indicates a higher quality wine. That is not to say that a wine with a short finish can't be enjoyable. 
 
The food pairing, then, is key. Some wines are better with food. While you may not enjoy a particular wine standing alone, you just may love it when matched with the perfect food! This is an entire subject in itself.  
 
If you are tasting a wine with a food, always make a wine “sandwich”. Taste the wine to get a feel for what it tastes like alone. Then, take a bite of the food. Taste the wine again. Evaluate: Do you like the wine better with or without that particular food? 
 
Then, savor every last drop.


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