While many may believe that it takes a wine expert to truly taste wine, that is simply not the case. The process of tasting wine is very easy, it is something that anyone can learn to do.
There are four basic steps to tasting wine. Even though these steps are used by the pros, they are relatively simple. Tasting and understanding wine can help you learn specifically what you like or don’t like about a variety or specific type of wine. It is easy to sharpen your understanding, all you need is a glass of wine and your thoughts!
Step 1: Look
This is the simplest step of the wine tasting process. Take a look at the opacity and color of your wine. Be sure to make note of the viscosity as well. One way to determine viscosity is to examine the wine legs on your glass. Wine legs are the droplets of wine that form on the inside of the glass. The “legs” are a result of the surface tension that is created by the evaporation of alcohol. More viscous wines will flow slowly down the sides of a glass, and wines with a higher alcohol content will create more droplets on the inside of the wine glass- both useful things to take into account when examining a wine.
Step 2: Smell
Wine aromas fall under three categories- primary, secondary, and tertiary. To keep it simple, think big to small. Don’t dive into the nitty gritty scents that you notice, instead think broadly. When tasting white wine, do you small citrus, orchard, or tropical flavors? When tasting red wine, what kinds of fruits do you smell? They are usually grape-derived and are typically fruity, herbal, or floral. These are your primary aromas.
Next, identify the secondary aromas. These aromas come from the process of creating the wine. The aromas originate from fermentation, and can include (but are not limited to) yeast-like flavors such as baked bread or sour cream. Lastly, identify tertiary aromas. These aromas are a result of the wine aging in oak or in the bottle. Examples include a scent of baking spices, nuts, smoke, vanilla or cloves.
Step 3: Taste
Now it is time to taste. When tasting wine, you use your tongue to observe the many aspects of the wine including taste, texture, and length. The taste of a wine includes salty, sweet, sour or bitter flavors. While most wines will have some sour flavor due to the acid of the grapes, very few wines will taste salty.
The texture of a wine results from a few factors, but you will notice that wines that are higher in alcohol content will have an increased texture. This is because the alcohol gives the wine a texture that makes it feel richer than water. While tasting, make note of tannins. Red wines are known for their tannins, which give off a sand-papery, dry sensation.
If you are interested in learning more about wine, be sure to read our blog, or attend any of our educational wine tastings at Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, MA. Our staff are experts in all things wine, and would love to help you find your perfect bottle!