Follow these wine tasting tips and you’ll soon be sniffing and swirling like an expert.
Wine tasting is all about identifying what makes one wine different from another and, of course, deciding which wines you enjoy drinking the most. Whether you are in a wine shop, supermarket or restaurant the choice of wines on offer can sometimes be overwhelming.
Look at the Label
The key things that make one wine different from another are the grape variety and climate. You will be able to find out a lot about the wine you are going to taste like by looking at the label. Many wines will be labeled by grape variety, for example, Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. For others, such as Rioja or Chablis you might need to look up what the grape variety is. A quick search will give you an idea what to expect from the grape.
Secondly, think about the climate. Wines from cool climates, for example Northern Europe, tend to be more acidic and fresher. Wines from warmer climates, such as California or Australia, are often fruitier, richer and fuller. One isn’t better than the other, they are just different.
Discover Wines You Love
A wine tasting where you try a few wines alongside each other is one of the best ways to decide which wines you prefer. You could compare wines made with the same grape but from different climates or look at a few wines from the same region. Take some notes as you taste so that you will be able to look back on them afterwards. Don’t be intimidated. Wine is a matter of personal taste and everyone has their own preferences.
Get Ready for A Wine Tasting
Firstly, select the wine or wines you are going to try. You want to make sure they are the right temperature. Most of us enjoy white wine chilled but if it is too cold it can be difficult to taste, so take whites out of the fridge ahead of time. Similarly make sure your reds aren’t too warm. Cool room temperature is probably best.
Then choose some suitable glasses and make sure they are clean, traces of detergent will not enhance the flavour of your wine. Good glasses for wine tasting give you room to swirl the wine and often taper slightly at the top so that the aromas are condensed. Pour a small amount of each wine, about 50ml is ideal for a tasting. Remember to have some paper to hand to take notes, our wine tasting note sheets are ideal.
I’ve been on a few wine tasting courses and one of the first wine tasting tips I was given is to have a systematic approach when tasting wine.
Look at the appearance first. What colour is the wine? Obviously red or white but then look at the depth of colour. Lighter colour and clarity would suggest that the wine itself might be fresher perhaps from a cooler climate.
Before you try the wine give it a swirl and smell it. All wines have fruity smells, citrus, stone fruits or berries but can you detect anything else like oak or vanilla, even chocolate or coffee. These other aromas are called secondary or tertiary. Secondary aromas such as butter or toast are related to the fermentation process. Tertiary aromas give clues as to how old a wine is. The most common of these vanilla which is associated with wines aged in oak. As the wine matures the fresh fruit flavours mellow and develop. If you are smelling cooked fruit or get an idea of jam maybe the wine is older. Double check by looking the label and remember to take some notes at this stage.
Finally you are going to taste the wine. Take one large sip of wine followed by a few smaller sips. As you sip try to think about which different flavours you can identify each time . Does the wine taste the way you expected it to when you smelt it? Think about how acidic the wine feels. Consider how dry or sweet the wine is. Ask yourself how long the flavour of the wine stays with you, this is known as the finish. Decide whether you like it and if you are sampling a few wines think about which is your favourite and why you enjoyed it most.
Wine Tasting with Top Note Design
We stock everything you need to begin wine tasting from corkscrews and tasting glasses to Drop Stop pourers and even blind tasting covers. Follow our wine tasting tips and explore all our wine tasting tools here.