Tasting wine is a subject that has been and remains the subject of numerous books. Wine lovers have the choice in major bookstores and articles are abundant on the web.
To write a few lines about what is more narrative as a personal experience is my aim today rather than pretend to give a course to the one who is seeking an A to Z specific pattern on wine-tasting.
Right now, those who love wine are not tasters in the sense we mean it: we taste wines and drink them adding comments of our own to say they are good or less good or bad. These comments we make them generally in a disorderly manner and very often, pull the glass up to our lips to taste, drink and swallow while the process of tasting is different.
It follows actually a very particular way which is confirmed by the different courses dedicated to this subject.
I remember a tasting course at the University of Bordeaux, Oenology Department in the 1980s.
My approach was that of an amateur in the purest sense: that is to say someone who likes wine but do not know much about it ..
The discovery was shocking ! The professor took us along unknown paths in explaining the process of tasting and the very specific vocabulary that goes with it. Away with “odors”, hello to “aromas” ! was the style.
I had kept my notes and so here is a brief summary of the process to understand what a wine tasting is.
There are 3 steps:
– Visual appearance (analysis of wine by the eye)
– Smell, aromas, appearance (analysis by the nose)
– The taste (taste analysis in mouth)
with a systematic and complete description against each of these steps, all leading to a final review, a synthesis that allows us to judge the tasted wine.
– After filling half a glass in, we pull it up against daylight and observe the colour of wine.
– Then bring the glass to your nose to smell the aroma. When running the liquid in the glass in circles for a few seconds, the different aromas emerge.
– Finally, take a sip in your mouth (without swallowing directly !), “chew” it, lips closed (!) and begin to understand the different sensations extracting them; then blow air into the liquid to amplify the various sensations. Finally, spit it out systematically, which has the effect of leaving flavours on your palate and give you a general but more precise impression of the wine just tasted. At this very moment you will make comments for sure..
These steps are all coded by a specific vocabulary that changes depending on the wine that is tasted (influence of the grapes, for example).
After completing these steps, you should be able to bear a critical comment over the product. At the start it will be your own vocabulary and you will improve with time, using the adequate words to the amazement of your guests and family. You will become an expert !
This article is relatively short because so many books have been written comprehensively on the subject and you will probably get one from your next bookshop.
As far as I am concerned, I have always kept in mind this analysis process of tasting and I cling to it whenever I open a bottle for myself or with guests.
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June 11, 2016 / Carlos /