Secrets of wine tasting
The process of wine tasting may very well be described by the "6 S" which according to the english terminology these mean -Setup, Seeing, Swirling, Sniffing, Slurping, Spitting.
1. Setup ... the conditions for the wine tasting
Set up a nice, cosy environment, free of smells and noise, and plenty of time to devote to the tasting process. The surrounding environment, the awaiting and the aroused expectation take a big part on the outcome of the tasting.
Choose the right glass for the occasion. Preferably a tulip shaped shaped glass with a stem and a thin lip.
- holding the glass by the stem minimizes temperature change
- a long stem allows you to swirl the wine
- the glass shape will concentrate and deliver the aromas
Pour a little wine into your glass.
If ypu are tasting several types of wine, begin with the whites and lightest and progress to the heaviest and the reds before ending with the desert wines. This type of grouping will help keep your taste buds more sensitive so that you can better appreciate each wine in the series.
Observe its colour and its texture by holding your tasting glass up to the light or against a white background.
Look for the clarity of the wine and the brilliance of the colour. Is the wine clear or cloudy? The colour of the wine can give you a clue as to the variety and the age of the wine. For instance, a Merlot, will usually be an intense ruby red while a Cabernet Sauvignon will be a darker - deeper red.
The wines vary in the colour intensity according to their age. White wines generally gain colour as they age while red wines lose colour. For instance, as a red wine ages, you will see hints of reddish-brown around the edges.
Swirl the wine a couple of times by moving the glass in a circular motion. The swirling allows the aromas of the wine to be released into the air.
Through our sence of smell, wine reveals its pleasures to us. Place your nose just over the edge of the wine glass and sniff. By this process we try to assess two things: firstly the aroma, which is derived by the variety and the fermentation process, and secondly the bouquet which is developed in the barrel and later on during the aging process. Try to detect and identify the full range of scents from berry to floral to spicy to woody etc. The scent should be clean and not musty. You can repeat this step many times as long as you rest your sence of smell a few seconds before you smell again.
This is the final step is wine tasting. Take a small amount in your mouth, swirl it around lightly making sure that it comes in contact with each part of your tonge and keep it there for a brief period. Each part of the tongue specializes in a different taste sensation so it is important to slurp the wine around in your mouth. The first taste you get is the sweet one (tip of your tongue), then the salty one (sides of the tip of your tongue), the sour one (the sides of your tongue) and finally the bitter one (at the back).
In this stage we try to evaluate the taste, armony, balance and richness in characteristics of the wine we are tasting. A wine has a body when it leaves an ample impression, otherwise it is light. A wine is soft when it has a silky texture, and it is balanced when there is harmony among its components - fruit, acidity, tannins, alcohol. Also a wine is considered to be long if it leaves a long aftertaste or short if it ends abruptly.
Spitting the wine helps you to keep your head clear so that you can evaluate the rest of the wines fairly, particularly when you have to taste multiple wines. On the other hand of course, nothing stops you from enjoying drinking the wine.
When you finish the whole process you might find it useful to keep notes on the wines you tasted so that next time you taste a similar wine you can compare their characteristics.