What has your experience been when tasting wine? Choose one of the following:
a) All wine tastes the same to me.
b) I have used the Systematic Approach to tasting wine.
c) Wine tasting? I gulp it!
d) I enjoy tasting and drinking wine because I have some basic knowledge on bouquet and palate profiles.
e) What is wine?
The majority of people I have encountered in my wine journeys would probably fall under the “A” category. Many people drink wine, but it all tastes the same to them. I get it. I used to be that person too. With some practice, however, I believe that everyone can develop a keen sense for tasting wine. You may not become the top wine expert in the world, but hey, you can impress your friends with some basic knowledge! What did you say?
Three months later…
You chose “D” or “B”? Yes, I thought so.
The very first step to understanding the tasting process is to get to know your Principle Grape Varieties and what characteristics are typical of these grapes. These varietals include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz/Syrah.
Here is a basic approach to tasting wine. The Systematic Approach is much more in depth, but this process will provide you with a great starting point. The overall process should take no more than 60 seconds. Seriously! It’s that easy.
The first step: Pour about 2oz of wine into your glass. Tilt your glass on a 45 degree angle. Check to see if the wine is clear or cloudy. Then observe the colour and shade of the wine. Tip: The lighter the colour, the lighter the body of the wine. The deeper the colour, the more full-bodied the wine will probably be.
The second step: Check the intensity of the bouquet, or the “nose”, of the wine. Does it spring out of the glass and hit you in the nose hairs, or do you have to really get your nose in the glass to smell anything? Try and then associate certain smells to the wine. For example, are you smelling strawberries? Lemons? Dirt? Stones? Smoke? Peaches? Butter? Grass? Mold? This list is not exhaustive.
The third step: The tasting. For the palate notes, or flavour profile, you want to also see if you can make associations to tastes, just like when you examined the bouquet. Are you tasting any fruit? Spice? Earthiness? Wood? Minerals? You will also want to see how the wine feels in your mouth. Is it light, like skim milk? Or heavy, like cream? This will point to if the wine is light, medium, or full bodied.
The fourth step is really the most important: Do you like what you are trying? What do you like about it, or not like about it? You don’t have to enjoy every wine you try. It’s OK.
Take notes for the wines you try. You will find that you will become more comfortable with analyzing a wine with every wine you taste. Share these experiences with your friends…it’s very exciting!