Wine Tasting Part 3 - Taste

Wine Tasting Part 3 - Taste

In her second blog on Wine Tasting Maggy Smith wrote about aroma and flavour. This week she blogs about the world of aromas and flavour.

Wine Tasting Sniff, Swirl, Slurp and Spit/Swallow (Part 3) - TASTE

"Drinking wine is a bit like listening to music and is mostly a passive sensual pleasure.  We love it without giving it too much thought.  However, properly tasting a wine involves a deliberate and considered exercise with the ultimate aim of raising your enjoyment.  In many ways, it is a little like studying.  It is an art which is better conducted initially in the company of someone who knows how to guide you (so a guided wine tasting) as well as by reading up on the subject and of course experimenting with lots of different wines.

 What makes a good taster is first of all knowing the location of your taste buds.  Knowing where your taste receptors are located and which locations are more highly sensitive.  This allows you to home in on these tastes as you explore the wine.  What you want to direct your attention to is different aspects of wine, particularly sweetness, acidity, bitterness and length.  Other qualities of the wine to recognize like balance and texture will come with experience and practice.

Below: Taste-buds on the tongue, with their traditional taste-sensitive location

The technique of tasting should be as follows:

Step 1:  Take about 5-7 ml or a good teaspoon of wine into your mouth

Step 2:  Work the wine gently around the mouth like a mouthwash.  You work it round to make it reach all your taste buds, to feel its texture and to push the tastes and scents to the receptors in your throat which will eventually drive them up to your olfactory bulb before spitting.  Yes, spitting!!  It is normal if you are tasting many wines to spit them.  If you are tasting one bottle of wine then feel free to swallow.

Step 3:  Concentrate on making a summary of the wine noting its body (alcohol), acidity, tannin (in reds) and concentration.  Try to think of appropriate words to describe what you are tasting.

Step 4:  At this point, you will have a broad outline of the wine and a good overall idea of its quality and whether you are enjoying it.

Dryness - is the wine absent of any sugary impressions Sweetness -  or is it cloying

Acidity is the sharpness clearly perceived on the upper sides of the tongue so it is easy to focus on

Bitterness can be clearly tasted at the rear (base) of the tongue, sometimes seeming to reach back into the throat.  You could liken this to tonic water or strong black coffee.  Don’t confuse this with tannin

Tannin is a tactile sensation.  Its taste location at the back of the tongue explains why bitterness, when it is found, is usually perceived as part of the aftertaste of the wine.  Tannin can be likened to furring on your gums.

Alcohol has properties of both taste and texture and can be perceived as warmth in the mouth especially when the alcohol levels reach 13% abv or more.  It can also give us a thick texture especially if you were to compare this to water.

Our last perception might be concentration or the degree of flavour and how you judge it.  Words like weak, diluted, dense, strong are words that would conjure up concentration.  This tells us if the wine has good length.  How long it lingers on the palate.

Experiment with your wine this weekend.  I would recommend the amazing Rubro red wine from our website for conducting this experiment.  Just don’t forget your pencil and paper to jot down a few words.  Before you know it you will be adding adjectives to describe your vino and having a much better wine tasting experience.  Next week I will return to reviewing a single wine but although this is very in-depth for tasting a wine it is fun to try and will so add to your future enjoyment.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend.  Cheers!"

Maggy Smith
Member of the Association of Wine Educators
Certified Spanish Wine Educator
Certified Sherry Educator

Check out our entire wine collection here or if you want recommendations from an expert, check our Bring Me Vino Direct’s Tom Smith's recommendations at Tom's Special Selections

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