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The Basics of Wine Tasting

The Basics of Wine TastingWe all know how to drink wine, but do you know how to truly enjoy the taste of the exquisite drink? Are you one of many who enjoy drinking wine but would like to know more about how to actually taste and appreciate the wine? If you can taste food and describe the flavors, you can do the same with wine.

Wine is a wonderful addition to any meal. It’s flavorful, decadent and something many people enjoy. Perhaps the problem arises because we so often enjoy wine in social gatherings, where we are so focused on chatting, eating, having fun and so forth, that we don’t give any thought to the wine being swallowed, so long as it is not unpleasant.

Wine tasting is not the same as drinking it. To experience the true flavor of a wine requires that you slow down and pay attention to your senses of sight, smell, touch, as well as taste.

Important first steps are to make sure the glass you are using is clean, and that you do not fill it too full. About one-third full is best.

Holding a wine glass:
There is a right way and a wrong way to hold a wine glass, and it does make a difference. Never hold the glass by its bowl, only by its stem since the heat of your hand will quickly warm the liquid.

Sight:
Look at the wine – in daylight if possible. The best way is to slightly tilt the wine in the glass and hold it up to the light or look at it against a white or pale background. What do you see?

Is the wine clear or cloudy? The color will vary according to what type of wine you are tasting.

Red Wines:  Red wines vary greatly in color. A young red wine is typically a bright-raspberry color. You will see hints of reddish-brown around the edges. An older red wine might be mahogany to brick-like in color. As a red wine ages, the red wine tends to have a brick-like color. Some dessert wines and especially those that have been in oak barrels, tend to be golden.

White Wines: White wines range from pale green to yellow to deep golden brown and become more golden as they age.

Swirl:
While firmly holding the stem of the wine glass, gently swirl the glass in tiny circles on a flat surface for 10 to 20 seconds allowing oxygen to penetrate the wine.

The purpose of swirling wine in a glass is to aerate the wine and release vapors, evaporating from the sides of the glass, for you to smell. As the wine coats the sides of the glass, it releases its bouquet.

Observe the streaks of wine (legs) as they roll down the side of the glass. The legs can help you determine the body of the wine.

Smell or Sniff:
Tip the glass up and stick your nose in it and inhale. Some tasters claim that you can get more aroma by holding your nose an inch or so above the glass after swirling. They think you catch more than you would if you put your nose all the way into the glass. Try both ways to see what works for you. Also, your nose tires very quickly. Even “off-smells” may not register after a number of sniffs.

The aromas can be quite different depending on how far into the glass your nose goes. What do you smell? There is no proper sniffing technique. Some wine connoisseurs prefer to sniff by quickly inhaling two or three times. Others prefer one deep sniff or smelling with one nostril at a time.

At the top of the glass, the smells are more floral and fruity; deeper in the glass, they are richer. Try to detect the full range of scents from berry to floral to spicy to woody … and so on. Consider intensity and appeal.

Sip and Taste:
This is the final step and should be taken only after you’ve used your other senses. Then sip the wine, letting the wine spread across the tongue from front to back and side to side before swallowing.

If you feel comfortable doing so, carefully slurp some air through puckered lips. This slurping of air (aerating) will help to release flavor and aromas.

Assessing the wine by taste should confirm the conclusions drawn from the appearance assessment and the smell assessment.
. The tip of the tongue detects sweetness
. The inner sides of the tongue detect sourness
and/or acidity
. The outer sides of the tongue detect saltiness

At this point you can either spit it out (especially if you are tasting several wines) or simply drink it, but be sure to experience the aftertaste (the finish). Professional wine tasters will not swallow the wine, but immediately spit it out (you will see buckets for this purpose).

If you are tasting several wines, begin with the lightest white wines first and progress to the heaviest red wines. This will help keep your taste buds more sensitive so you can better appreciate each wine in the series. A sip of water between wines can also help preserve your palate.

Remember, there are no right or wrong descriptions of how a wine tastes or smells. Don’t rush the tasting experience. Linger over the wine.

Finally, beyond all this objective evaluation lies the most important taste qualifier – do I like this wine? Do I want to drink it again? As a wine consumer, you don’t have to be objective, it is all about what you like to taste and drink.

Whispering Oaks Winery Visitor Center
Open daily from 11:00 – 7:00pm
Free wine tasting, tours on request, gift items, and live music on weekends!

Discover the rich taste of all-natural blueberry wines.
If you have never tried it, you are in for a surprise!

Whispering Oaks Winery
10934 N. County Rd 475
Oxford, FL, 34484
352-748-0449

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