How to Taste Wine in a Structure Way

Posted by Jacky Yuen on 12. May 2010

Most people do not really taste wine, they simply drink it. But by under taking a detailed and considered tasting ritual, all that the wine has to offer, good and bad, is assessed. Four headings should be considered in tasting each wine: appearance, nose, palate and conclusions. The appearance of the wine should be examined in several ways, particularly by holding the glass at an angle of approximately 30◦ from the horizontal over a white background – perhaps a tablecloth or sheet of white paper. This will enable the clarity, the intensity of colour and the true colour of the wine to be seen. Looking straight down on a glass of wine standing on a white background is also useful for determining the intensity of colour. A wine should be given a short sniff to check its condition. Most faults will show on the nose, and if the wine is clearly out of condition. Assuming the wine not to be faulty, it should now be aerated in order to help release the volatile aromas – i.e. putting air into the wine will make the nose more pronounced. The usual way of achieving this is by swirling the wine round the glass several times. We should note the intensity of the nose, and analyse the aroma characteristics. A small sample of wine should be poured into a glass, drunk as one would normally drink and then reflected on for a moment. Then another mouthful should be taken and assessed using the professional approach - the wine should be rolled over the tip of the tongue and air should be breathed into the wine. The purpose of breathing air into the wine is to facilitate the vapourisation of the volatile compounds that travel via the retro-nasal passage to be sensed by the olfactory bulb. Finally, the all-important length of the wine is the amount of time the flavours are retained on the palate. Having thoroughly assessed the wine, judgements and conclusions may now be made. The key consideration is the quality (of flavour, components & complexity) readiness to drink, and any food pairings to compliment the wine.

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