WINE 101 > WINE TASTING ETIQUETTE
This wine amuses with its presumptions... pish ta!
Why taste wines? Can't I just drink wine?
Tastings give you a leg up. You’ll develop your palette more quickly, expand your exposure to the intriguing diversity of wines, begin to link flavors and fragrances to tasting terms that previously may have seemed impenetrable jargon. Plus it saves lots of money which is especially nice since you’re bound to find some of the wines unappealing. And, it’s fun. To learn you only need to pay attention, be mindful of what you are experiencing. Here’s how.
How do hold a wine glass?
Hold the wine glass by the stem. This gives you leverage on the glass to properly swirl, keeps unsightly finger smudges off the bowl, and doesn’t warm the wine.
Judge a wine's color.
Look at the wine’s hue, depth of color and clarity. Tip the glass away from you and examine the color at the edge. Here’s where you’ll first find the orange or browning that suggests aging. These observations are easier against a white background.
Why swirl wine?
Swirl the wine in your glass. This creates more surface area from which odors are released. Now tilt the glass toward you and raise it to your nose. Tipping the glass exposes more surface area and gets the wine closer to your nose. Take a sniff and pull the glass away. Think about what you smelled, just first impressions. Repeat this as often as you want recognizing that your sense of smell fatigues quickly.
What's with that gurgling thing when people taste?
Now take a sip from your glass. Hold the wine in your mouth for a few seconds. This warms the wine a bit releasing more odors which is experienced via the nasal passages at the back of the throat. This process can be enhanced by cupping the wine with your tongue and pulling in air across it. Close your mouth and you’ll naturally exhale through your nose; once again exposing your olfactory senses to the wine. You may want to try this at home a few times before doing it in public. Lots of conspicuous choking and coughing occurs if while pulling air across the wine you inadvertently pull wine into your windpipe.
Judging a wine's finish.
Note the wine’s finish. This is the flavor and sensations lingering in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. The longer the finish and the more persistent it is the better.
Now the hard part, spit the wine out. This may not be convenient in someone’s home but organized events should provide buckets. You’ll be able to appreciate many more wines if you’re not swallowing. I’d be totally amiss if I didn’t caution you against back splash when the buckets are too full. Yuk!
Some do nots:
no smoking, no perfume or cologne, no table talk let everyone finish the tasting before expressing your opinion.