Friday, December 12, 2008

Post Script - Proper Tasting Technique

For those of you interested, here is a quick summary of proper wine tasting technique, and the information on the course I took. Worth every penny!

Proper Tasting (Courtesy of Richard Vayda)

Step 1 – Look

Tilt the glass slightly away from you so light can shine directly onto the wine. It’s generally best to hold wine over a white surface to ensure proper visibility of the color. With age, white wines become darker, evolving from green, to yellow, gold and finally brown. Oppositely, red wines lose their color, changing from dark purple, to red, to brick. Knowing this helps you assess if the wine is appropriately aging in the bottle. For example, a 2008 white shouldn’t be gold – something may have been wrong with the how the wine was wine stored. Take time to appreciate the color, its density, and the feeling it gives you. Some wines look silky and soft, and others look creamy and deliciously rich. How does this one make you feel?

Step 2 – Smell

Swirl the glass (beginners, keep it on the table and swirl by holding the base) to agitate the wine and release some of the smells. Put your nose to the glass – don’t hesitate to stick it all the way in – and inhale. Do you smell any off or sour odors that you typically wouldn’t smell in wine? This may indicate something wrong with the bottle. Do you smell tree fruit, citrus fruit, or berries? New or old fruit? Can you detect the smell of woodiness, sometimes thought to be smokiness? What else is in there? Really get after it and try to appreciate the complete smell for its building blocks.

Step 3 – Taste

Swirl the glass, smell it again, and take a small sip, enough to cover your tongue. How does it feel in your mouth, heavy, light, or in between? Does the sweetness tingle the front of your tongue? Is there enough acid or tannin in the wine to percolate the edges? And how about the back of your tongue, any bitter stimulation there? Take another sip and really go after the flavor. Open your mouth slightly and breathe some air over the wine to encourage the smells to stimulate your senses. Did the smells translate into flavor? Did those ripe strawberries get in the glass? Was the wine deceptively tart smelling, but in fact is a bright and lively mix of dark cherries? Did that grassy smell translate into a hay flavoring?

Step 4 – Discuss

Take a second to talk amongst yourselves. Did your tastes line up? Were there things that your compatriots tasted that maybe you missed? Feel free to share if the wine strikes a particular memory before (I've been on a beer tasting at which the beer reminded me of black eyed peas after New Years). Wine is not only a partner for food, but a partner for intimate, genuine conversation. This is not a competition. The final step is about sharing a bit of yourself with the people you chose to spend this precious time with. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will be referring back to this post in for future lessons.