Gone are the days when wine tours were reserved only for the elite. Now, anyone can become a connoisseur or at least embark upon that journey as long as s/he has the appreciation for it. If you’ve only recently been introduced to the wonders of wine and want to explore and learn more, it’s never too late to learn more. It’s simple; sign up for a wine tour – there’s no better place to learn things firsthand.
In this post, we give you five easy tricks on not only learning about the finer nuances of wine tasting on a tour, but also how to do it like you’ve been doing it since forever.
1. Look at the wine
Wine is as beautiful to look at as it is to taste, especially if it’s of a fine quality. Tilt the glass a little and observe the wine’s clarity. Look downwards into the glass and try to gauge its depth. Then hold it up to the light and notice its clarity and hues. Of course, you don’t have to plaster your face to the glass or stare at it like a seer looking into the orb!
Why? Wine’s clarity speaks volumes about its quality. The clearer the wine, the better and smoother it is.
2. Swirl it
This is not a move to show off, though it does the trick. Swirling helps you notice the finer characteristics of the wine. In addition, swirling also helps to release the aroma, which is the next big step in wine tasting. However, beware of spilling. Hold the glass by its stem and swirl it in light circular motions.
Why? When you make the circular motions, wine touches the walls of the glass. So, when you rest it, you’ll obviously notice little streams running down the walls. Now, the better these streams (also called as legs), the higher is the alcohol content, and the higher the alcohol content, the denser is the wine.
3. Smell it
Swirling has released the aroma, so it’s time for some sniffing. Smelling the wine is the closest you’ll get to know its quality without actually tasting it. However, make sure you don’t dip your nose into the wine (we’re trying to look smart here, remember?). The moment you’re done swirling, bring your nose to the tip of the glass and take in a few sniffs, breathe, and analyze the flavors.
Why? If wine smells frowzy or dank, you know it’s of the poor kinds. Good wine will always have notes of fruit, flowers, spices, herbs, nuts and the like, in equal or significant proportions. So much so that, in most cases you can actually identify the various notes in a wine, if it is that good.
Right: Take time to smell the wine – A girl in costume smells wine at the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF). Photo Courtesy: Frank Kovalchek
4. Taste it
Finally, the best part of the whole deal and the part you’ve been waiting for. Tasting is the ultimate goal; it’s why you’re doing this in the first place, aren’t you? When you sip the wine, explore its many layers and its complexity. Don’t gargle, as if you’ve downed mouthwash. Just gently swoosh it in the mouth a couple of times.
Why? The swooshing helps you identify and relish each and every note, irrespective of whether you drink it. This also helps you identify one wine from another and in the process, finds the wine that’s the soul-mate to your taste-buds.
5. Spit it
As weird as this may sound, spitting is important as well as acceptable. Spitting out the wine simply helps you stay sober longer. There’s always a chance you’ll be served more wine than you’re comfortable consuming. Once you’ve reached “Step 4” of this post, your work is pretty much done. So yes, don’t hesitate to spit it out, with prior practice, of course.
While it may not be such a rocket science, everything here needs to be done as if wine is a delicate matter (which it is). The slightest show of buffoonery will just ruin the whole effect for you.
Alison Ince is a part of the team at Niagara Vintage Wine Tours, a company that offers wine tours in Niagara. She has a keen interest in trying out different cuisines and recipes and in her spare time, writes blog articles to share her thoughts and ideas.