To the uninitiated, wine tasting may sound like little more than standing in a room somewhere, swilling a few random glasses, and calling it a day. There’s actually a lot more to it than that, and for those who know and engage in it as a hobby, wine tasting can be great recreation and a way to travel.
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Like any good thing, one of the keys with wine tasting is patience, not rushing into or through it. There’s a saying that life isn’t about the destination; it’s about the journey. That’s apt to remember when sampling wine. While joining in with a monthly wine club and partaking in a few unfamiliar wines isn’t rocket science when it gets down to it, there are definite steps worth observing when tasting. It’s all about identifying the finer wines that people have invested money in through companies like twelve by seventy five.
There are two basic types of wine tasting, the vertical test which measures different years (also known as “vintages”) of the same type of wine and the horizontal test which takes the same year but looks at a few different types of wine. Some of the objectives in either type of tasting are to gauge the complexity, character and balance of the wine and its potential as well as to identify any possible faults.
The first three steps in tasting occur before any of the actual tasting, which is the fourth and second-to-last part of the experience. Before one so much as sips a Merlot or Chardonnay or any of the other countless vineyard varieties, it’s useful to examine the color, smell, and give a swirl to whatever is in the glass. These are the first three steps. After getting the glass, give it a small tilt, do a short inspection, and ask the following:
* What is the wine’s colour like?
* Is there sediment in the fluid or is it relatively clear?
* Does it have a pleasing aroma?
After a first smell, try swirling the glass for 10-12 seconds. The image of holding a wine glass by its stem and giving it a few twirls may seem like wine tasting cliche though the purpose is to vaporise some of the alcohol and unleash more of the aroma.
After doing these first three steps, have a sip. Start with a small one. The critical portion of tasting a wine comes next.
The Attack Phase and The Evolution Phase and The Finish sound like names for bad science fiction, rock music albums, or comic books. The names refer to the three critical stages for tasting. The Attack is about the first impression wine makes on one’s palate with its alcohol content, acidity, residual sugars, and tannin levels. The Evolution is the mid-range part of the tasting where one can take more time to analyze the wine, such as considering what fruit is involved. Finally, the Finish is primarily about whatever after taste the wine leaves.
The steps in wine tasting can be summed up as color, swirl, smell, taste, and savor. All of this may sound like a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it’s in the name of fun and enjoyment. After all, it’s wine tasting, not rocket science.