Wine Tasting Basics

RunawayGrape banner 120 x 600Written by Broads Abroad Contributor: Tania Thomas of RunawayGrape.

This is for all of you wine lovers who do not necessarily wish to take wine classes, but simply learn the basics. Make ordering a bottle in the restaurant or searching for the perfect one in the aisles of your local wine shop a pleasurable experience.

Simply put, wine is pressed grape juice, fermented until natural sugars turn into alcohol. However, with thousands of bottles and hundreds of different grapes to choose from, the world of wine can certainly intimidate.

Luckily, one does not need to be an expert to enjoy wine like a pro. With a few basics on tasting techniques, major grapes, wine growing regions and food pairings, you will be confident enough to venture into this fascinating world on your own.

Wine tasting is not just like art it is an art. Learning the technique, however, is a simple process which will greatly increase the pleasure you get from tasting.

Today we start with the basic of wine tastings; handling the glass, looking, swirling, sniffing and tasting. Over the next weeks and months we’ll cover all major wine growing regions of the world and learn a bit about each one. We’ll touch upon the history, grapes grown, styles of wine made and my favourite part; famous foods of the region and how pairing them with the regional wines can elevate dinning experience to a completely different level.

LOOK: Fill the glass about a third full with wine and hold it by its stem to avoid fingerprints and prevent heating. Next, hold it against a white background (tablecloth or a napkin would do nicely) to assess the color. White wines are not actually white; they range from green to yellow and brown. Red wines range from pale red to deep brown red. The wine’s color is an indication of its intensity and body; deeper the color, fuller the wine. Rim color holds the information on wine’s age. Tilt the glass slightly and observe the edge. In young red wines the rim has a purple tint and turns more into orange hues as it matures.

SWIRL: If your glass is a third full, there is plenty of room for you to safely swirl without spilling. Gently swirl the wine (counter clockwise is for some reason easier to do) and observe the “body” of wine. Thicker and slower “legs” indicate higher alcohol or sweetness level. One exception, however, is never to swirl sparkling wine, champagne included, as it accelerates the release of the bubbles, which is the main part of enjoying the sparkling wines.

NOSE: Place your nose inside the rim of the glass. Inhale and focus on the aromas of the wine. What is the first thing that comes to mind; berries or violets; vanilla or coconut; leather or smoke? Sometimes it is difficult to tell, do not despair. This step takes time and practice. Thankfully, tasting wine is always fun. Invite some friends, pick a theme (a region or a grape), get everyone to bring a bottle and taste away comparing notes as you go along.

TASTE: At last, take that sip. Draw in some air (yes, you will probably look and sound funny) and swish it around for a few seconds. How does it feel; light or heavy; silky and smooth or a bit harsh? Contemplate the taste for a moment, decide if you like it and then gently spit it out. Oh, no!! What was the point, you ask? Tasting and drinking are two very different things. Tasting gives you an opportunity to find the wines you really like. So pour yourself a glass of your favourite one, curl up on a sofa and enjoy it to the very last drop.

For a Runaway Grape experience click on the logo below. Happy tasting…

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