Wine is a difficult world to get into. Historically, the admission price required to be among the wine learned folk around the world has been a hefty investment of time and money. The remnants of that attitude are still present in the industry now, but more and more winemakers, sommeliers, restaurateurs, wineries, and enthusiasts are working to make the expansive world of wine more accessible.
After all, any industry won’t do well if they try to keep people out. The wine industry has been battling this for years now, and our aim is to make wine as easy as it is intriguing. It’s becoming an industry that welcomes all ages (above 21, of course). Interestingly enough, millennials drink so much wine they’re changing how it’s sold, reportedly consuming 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015. Regardless of your age, experience, preference, and level of consumption, there are some proper ways to go about tasting wine. We’re here to give you the 411 so you’re not playing catch up whilst at the tasting table.
Holding the glass
When you’re staring down the list of organic wines in front of you, don’t get ahead of yourself. Your wine glass matters and you should always hold it by the stem. The bulb of the glass itself is temptingly ergonomic but avoid the temptation to hold it thus. If you do, your hand will eventually warm the wine you’re drinking and subtly change the flavor, plus nobody likes an unkempt glass. Keeping your fingers on the stem eliminates the chance of unsightly fingerprints that might distort your view of the wine.
Eyes, nose, and tongue
The veritable Holy Trinity of the wine tasting process, you’re not haphazardly slugging glass-after-glass of pinot noir like it’s Tour de Franzia at the sorority house. Going through a tasting list of organic wines (or any wines), this process doesn’t have to be drawn out nor pretentious and it will help you get a feel for what you’re tasting, especially if you’re tasting several different wines.
- Eyes: Without getting too in-depth, the first part of the tasting is seeing. What does your wine look like? You’re holding the glass by the stem already, now tip it at an angle against a white (ideally) background. Focus on the difference of color the wine takes from the center of the glass to the edges.
- Nose: Still holding the stem, swirl it in the glass. This lets more of the wine become exposed to oxygen, opening the bouquet. Take a good sniff and imagine the scents you’re getting. Fruits? Nuts? Leather? Smoke? Spice? How are they working together? For beginners, it’s good to take two things you think you smell and take note of them. Compare them with the scents other tasters pick up.
- Tongue: Now the best part, the taste. It’s not a full gulp, but just enough to coat the tongue and have the ability to tumble around the mouth. There are several tasting terms that we’ll tackle in another article, but, to begin, approach this like the smelling portion. Choose two flavors that shine through. They don’t even have to be specific flavors, they can be sensations. How does the taste make you feel? What do you think of? Usually, you’ll spit the wine out after the taste, especially when you’re on taste number one of seven on that list of organic wines.
The winding path of wine is full of tasty adventure and history. There are wines that have roots and stories all around the world, waiting for you to visit and taste them. Go and learn, it’ll be the best bits of homework you’ve ever done.