Having drunk wine for a number of years now, I am pretty sure I’m quite good at it. But only in recent years have I truly practiced tasting wine. When drinking wine in the past, I considered two important features: “Yum!” and “Yuck!”. Apparently, there’s more to it than that, so here are the three key steps you need to take when tasting your English wine.
Hold your wine up against a white/light surface and observe the clarity and colour. Generally, reds fade with age and whites deepen in colour. If it’s a red, can you see through it or is it so deep in colour that you can’t? This could hint at how heavy or light a wine will feel in the mouth. A deep-coloured wine may have stronger tannins. Is it clean or cloudy? If it’s cloudy, beware, it may be bad!
Give that glass a good swirl to release the aromas and put your nose into the glass. BEWARE! If you have just purchased a 250ml glass down the pub, you may get wine up your nose! This is best practiced with a small amount of wine in a larger glass. See what you can pick out. Fruits? Vegetables? Spices? Baked goods? Is it sweet or savoury? Earthy or floral? The nose is more sensitive than the tongue, so this is the most important part of wine tasting and should not be skipped.
Take a good sip and swirl it around your mouth. You don’t have to gargle it or slurp it, just make sure it hits every bit of your tongue so you don’t miss any key flavours. Does it taste as expected? Are you picking up on the flavours that you could smell? Are there any new flavours that you’re getting? How does it feel? Is it light or heavy? A lot of people compare the mouthfeel to skimmed vs whole milk. Did it dry your mouth out once you swallowed it, or did it feel like a juicy fruit? Was there an element of both?
If you are taking notes, be as descriptive as possible and don’t forget to decide most importantly: Do I enjoy this wine? If you are not taking notes, it is still good practice to Look, Smell and Taste when drinking wine so that you begin to build up a picture in your mind of what features different wines have. This way, the next time you see a similar bottle, you will be able to take an educated guess as to how it might taste.
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