Wine Tasting - Getting Started
Thought for the day
The ability to sniff out and untangle the subtle threads that weave into complex wine aromas is essential for tasting. Try holding your nose while you swallow a mouthful of wine; you will find that most of the flavor is muted. Your nose is the key to your palate. Once you learn how to give wine a good sniff, you’ll begin to develop the ability to isolate flavors—to notice the way they unfold and interact—and, to some degree, assign language to describe them.
This is exactly what wine professionals—those who make, sell, buy, and write about wine—are able to do. For any wine enthusiast, it’s the pay-off for all the effort.
While there is no one right or wrong way to learn how to taste, some “rules” do apply.
First and foremost, you need to be methodical and focused. Find your own approach and consistently follow it. Not every single glass or bottle of wine must be analyzed in this way, of course. But it is fun and educational if you really want to learn about wine. Whenever you have a glass of wine in your hand, make it a habit to take a minute to shut out all distraction and focus your attention on the wine’s appearance, scents, flavors and finish. Think about what you smell and how the wine looks.
When I first got into the business I had to start thinking about terms like vegetative and minerality. How can I understand the language without understand the base. I found myself sniffing grass, hay, asparagus, lemons, grapes, apples and more. Kind of silly but I also realized how seldom I had thought about the process of smelling and flavor. You can make yourself into a knowledgeable wine enthusiast simply by focusing on something that you are doing every minute of your life!
You can run through this mental checklist in a minute or less, and it will quickly help you to plot out the compass points of your palate.