Full-bodied or light? Oaky or fruity? What does this all mean? It may sound complex and scientific, but once you learn the basic steps to tasting wine, these terms become second nature. An exhilarating experience, wine tasting is ideally based on your personal preferences. The steps below will help in identifying the different flavours, aromas, and textures of wines. More importantly, they will help you select a wine that meets your heart’s desire.
Find a Winery
Before tasting wine, it is essential to find a good place to test your wine tasting skills. Sampling several varieties of wine in one go will help develop your palate. Of course, if you have a Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon at home, you can try it out too, but as a first-timer, the ideal wine tasting experience is best explored at a winery.
If you are in Sydney, head north towards Hunter Valley, a renowned wine region in Australia, and book a wine tasting tour with one or more wineries in Hunter Valley. Accommodation deals are endless with many hotels and resorts, including Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort offering convenient and comfortable options.
Choose an ideal glass
Keep in mind that you cannot taste wine in just any glass; it should be poured into a traditional wine glass, the rim of which is protruding inwards, and the glass is clear. These features are essential as they facilitate the flow of the aromas and give you the confidence to swirl the glass without worrying about spilling it on the floor.
Observe the wine closely
With your glass in hand, pour a very tiny amount of wine, approximately an inch, and visually inspect the wine. Most wine tasting tours may provide you with information regarding the wine’s colour, vintage and alcohol volume, but it’s much more exciting and satisfying for you to inspect the wine yourself and try to determine the colour and clarity of the wine. Hold the glass against a neutral-coloured background. The colour of wine would indicate to you the age of the wine; red wines tend to go from red to orange-brown as they age, while white wines get more colour as they age.
Swirl, swirl, swirl, and smell
The famed act of “swirling” the glass releases the aroma and allows the wine to air. To do this, hold the wine glass from the stem and move it in a circular motion a few times. Then keep your nose over the edge of the glass and breathe in slowly but deeply.
As you breathe in, try to think of the aromas inhaled by your nose; is it fruity, herby, flowery, nutty, earthy, smoky? Are there any hints of other milder scents such as vanilla, spices, or oak? Remember, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to wine tasting. It’s all about enjoying the experience and appreciating the different wines.
Savour the wine
The next step is to savour the wine; this means you need to take a sip and not a swig to determine the flavour of the wine. Before swallowing or spitting out the wine (if tasting several wines in one sitting), let the wine linger on your tongue by swirling it around in your mouth.
Then try to think of the flavours you taste as you do that. You want to determine if the wine is sweet, bitter, salty, alcoholic, or acidic and rich, light, smooth, or rough. Ask yourself if the wine was balanced; did it have a perfect blend and texture without one ingredient overpowering others? Can you add this particular wine to your list of must-have wines? Ultimately, how you identify the flavour, texture, and balance of the wine will determine which wines will have you thirsting for more.
If you are hoping to test your wine tasting skills at a wine tasting tour, be sure to cleanse your palate in between tasting by either sipping water or eating some bread or crackers. Cleansing your palate helps to keep your taste buds and memory refreshed and ready for the next tasting.