Friday, July 23, 2010

Taste Wine Like a Professional

I'm desperately trying to finish up re-writes on my next book set in a winery in Temecula and partially in Mendoza, Argentina. So today will be a short blog on how to properly taste wine. Books on wine tasting promise that the more times you do this, the more you'll develop your palate -- though I'm not sure I'm buying this. The more wine I taste, the drunker I get, and the more they all start tasting the same. But I'm sure they mean over time.

So, if you want to look like you know what you're doing, you first look at the wine in your glass and hold it up against the light. You might see a range of colors. Older wines will sort of fade as they approach the rim. Once you've admired the coloring, you swirl it around to release the wine's aromas. Then inhale and see if you can distinguish the key fruit flavors. After doing this many times, I actually started to smell and accurately guess if it was going to have say a cherry flavor. Interestingly, wine never smells like grape.

Finally after comparing with your friends what you think the wine smells like, and everyone having a different idea, go ahead and taste it. This is where it gets complicated. You're supposed to roll the wine around in your mouth so that your tongue can tastes all the various flavors. Your tongue can taste sweetness at the tip and as you move back, saltiness. On the sides you'll have a sensitivity to sourness and acidity. And lastly, bitterness is sensed way in the back. And as you have the wine in your mouth, rolling it around, you should suck in a little air to release more flavors. (Ah, huh, right)

Exhale through your nose and see what scents you can distinguish.

If at this point, you haven't dribbled the wine down your chin and onto your fancy top or drowned, see if you can distinguish it's weight. Light? Medium? Full-bodied? What were the levels of acidity (a bitter taste)? Was it sweet or dry? What fruits can you taste?

Finally, swallow it (or you can spit it out, but I just can bring myself to do this in public - which is why I end up with my head spinning after a couple of wineries). Notice any lingering flavors.

So, did you like it? If you did, you can buy a bottle. Or move on to the next wine.

It's actually a lot of fun. But, I have to be honest, I love wine much better at home with friends, empanadas and a barbeque.

Hugs to all. Now back to my novel.


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