Wines come in varied varieties with different types of flavours, colours, varieties, strengths and types. The taste and liking of a wine can differ from person – to – person as not everybody can like the same type of wine. Amateur wine – drinkers need to learn a lot before being sure of what wine they would like.
Tasting and analysing wine is an art which one needs to master in order to become a wine – expert. Before you begin to buy wine online or from nearby liquor stores without understanding the ABC of them, take some time out and learn the techniques of evaluating wine.
Also, as you sit down to taste wines, keep in mind that the surroundings of where you are tasting wine should be proper and appropriate. Tasting wine requires concentration, which can’t be achieved in a noisy or crowded room. Stay away from perfumes, pet odours or cooking smells as they will hinder inhaling and judging the aromas of the wine. Dust or detergent smells in the glass can affect the flavour of the wine. The temperature and age of the wine as well as any residual flavours left over in the drinker’s mouth also factor the wine – drinking experience.
Wine can be evaluated using various techniques. This article has been divided in two parts to incorporate all of them. So, go on, read, learn and enjoy:
1. Evaluation by Sight
Once a person is in the right drinking environment, the next thing to do is to evaluate wine in the glass. Pour wine into the glass keeping in mind that you do not have to fill it more than one – third.
· Straight Angle View: Look down straight into the glass of wine, then hold it towards the light and finally, give the glass a little tilt. All this helps one examine the complete colour range of the wine.
· Side View: To see how clear the wine is, simply hold the glass in light and view the wine through the side of the wine glass. A clear and sparkly wine is always a great positive.
· Tilted View: When a person tilts the glass, the wine thins out and rolls towards the rim. This will help you judge the age as well as the weight of the wine. If the wine looks pale and watery near the edge, it wouldn’t taste great.
· Swirl: Giving the glass a good swirl can help one make out the ‘tears’ or ‘legs’ that form in the wine and slip down the side of the glass. Good legs signify riper, denser, stronger wines with high alcohol levels.
Evaluation by Sniff
After giving a wine a good overall look, it’s time to take a good sniff of the wine. Give the glass a little swirl and take short, quick sniffs to understand the characteristics of the wine.
· Wine Flaws: This helps one make out if the wine is spoilt. A corked wine would give off musty, attic – like smells. A wine bottled with a high level of SO2 would smell like burnt matches. Sweaty saddle or dirty horse – like smells indicate the presence of Brettanomyces, a kind of yeast.
· Fruit Aromas: As wine is made from grape, it is bound to smell like fresh fruits, until and unless the wine is very old or very cold. Once a person learns to identify the fruit smells, he can point out the growing conditions of the grapes as well.
· Leaves, Spices, Flowers, Vegetables, Herbs: Whites like Riesling and Gewurztraminer can give off floral aromas while Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignons carry grassy smells with herbal hints.
· Wine Barrel Aromas: The smells of vanilla, roasted nuts, chocolate, toast, caramel etc. occur in wines due to aging in oak barrels.
· Secondary Aromas: Young white and sparkling wines smell similar to beer. This scent comes from the yeast. Honey, buttered popcorn or caramel smells are aromas that occur due to secondary fermentation.
Evaluation by Taste
When all the above is done, it’s time to taste the wine. Do not gulp down the wine, take a sip first. This helps one evaluate the flavour profile of the wine as well as how the wine is –
· Balanced: A balanced wine has proportionate amount of the flavour components, be it sweet, sour, bitter or salty. A good balance ensures that the wine is neither too sugary, nor too alcoholic or sour.
· Harmonious: In such wines, the wines contain all the components in a good proportion, but still each of them can stick out on its own. This harmonious and integrated flavour profile of a wine is a great sign.
· Complex: Understanding and analysing the complexity of a wine is difficult but once a person gets the hang of it, it is a thing to be relished. Complex wines uncover layer upon layers of varying flavour and aromatic characteristics, which makes them enjoyable and loved among wine – lovers of all ages. Each flavour lingers in the mouth and blends with the other flavours to create a joyous and appeasing taste in the mouth.
· Complete: A complete wine is one that is balanced, complex, harmonious and evolved that gives a long and satisfying finish. These wines provide a wave of pleasure to the drinker, appealing to both the mind and the soul.
For amateurs a good way to begin tasting wine is to order a mixed pack. This type of pack contains six or twelve different types of wines. Most online liquor stores offer great wine deals on such packs and these fall under an affordable range. You can try a wide variety of wines this way at a reasonable price and later on order what suited your taste buds the best!