Happy New Year! Over 2018, we certainly hope you enjoy some special wines, shared with great people over tasty food. There is simply nothing better!
At The Vine House, we're setting ourselves up for a year of special events where you'll be invited to taste an incredible array of wines. So we want to encourage you to sign up to our newsletter, join the Vine Society or join our Vine Club to stay in touch with all we have lined up!
And to help you navigate the wines we send you, as well as any events you might attend here is a quick 101 on how to taste wine. And we don't mean tasting in a way that makes you look pretentious but taste in a way that gives you the opportunity to fully enjoy the wine you're drinking. So as a fly through, here are 3 main areas to think about when tasting wine.
Observe the Wine
There is something deeply therapeutic about watching a white, red or sparkling being slowly poured into a glass. I am not sure whether it is the anticipation of that first sip, but that aside, actually observing the wine in the glass can reveal a lot about a wine before you've even tasted it.
Broadly, there are 4 key areas, clarity (how clear it is), colour (white or red), intensity (strength of colour) & viscosity (how thick the wine appears).
The clarity helps you gauge the quality of the wine. So if you look at a wine and it appears hazy, it may be off or faulty. The primary colour & intensity will help you to determine the age of the wine. Older wines tend to be less vibrant in the glass. Viscosity will help you to determine the alcohol content and residual sugar. Wines with higher viscosity, where they tend to "grip" the glass more tend to have a higher alcohol & residual sugar level.
Smell The Wine
Onto smelling the wine. By swirling the wine, you let it open up, by giving it some air. By doing that, it allows for the aromas to release. When smelling wine, you should look for these 3 aspects; clarity, aromas & complexity.
Clarity of the smell is all about judging whether or not it smells clear or is their something that doesn't quite smell right about it. So does it smell off, vinegary or dirty - trust me, you'll know when something is wrong with it...
Aromas & Complexity
Next Aromas, great wines allow for many different levels of aromas. Meaning there isn't one primary smell, you can actually pull out lots of different types of smells, whether it be fruits (there's an array), tobacco, oak etc etc. There isn't anything right or wrong with what you smell, so don't be afraid to let your mind run wild as you spend time creatively thinking about what you smell. Meanwhile, complexity is really just an addition to aromas. If there are multiple layers of aromas (where you smell lots of different aromas) then that just means that wine has complexity and typically will be a little more expensive than the norm.
Taste the Wine
Finally, and what we all long for is taking that first big sip. At the end of the day, we're all here to drink the bloody thing. So by all means take a sip, let it coat your tongue in that sensual kind of way. Think about the flavours that slowly run across your tongue and what flavours and sensations hit you and where. Wine is totally orgasmic if you give it the time before you swallow it.
Typically, this is where we should spend the most amount of time. Actually enjoying its taste. How we do this is by looking for these 5 elements. Body/Mouth-Feel, Structure, Elegance, Finish & Length.
This is when our palate gets first glance at the wine. Like when we're looking for that special person to go out with, how we are attracted to him or her determines whether it is worth pursuing. It is no different with wine. So as a tongue is coated with those glorious flavours, we then can determine if what we're tasting is any good (and whether we want more).
Like the body of the wine, structure helps us figure out do we want more? Is there depth to what we're tasting? Can we taste more than one type of fruit or flavour and do they balance or overpower one another? If so, we'll typically go back. Good wines are all about great depth and many flavours playing on your tongue in harmony. Trust me, you'll know what we're talking about when you crack a good bottle.
Elegance, Finish & Length
I have combined them all together, as in all honesty, when there is elegance, there is finish and when there is finish, there is length.
When you're in that moment of total bliss in a bottle of wine, you will be getting delicate characters to it, where you notice extra subtly in flavour. Having then swallowed, you then have a finish, where you still can taste flavours that often are what have you salivating for more. Typical, finishing flavours are tannins, acidity-levels & oak. The length then is (as it alludes to) is the length to which your finishing flavours stay in your mouth. Often the longer the finish and the complexity of the finish means your enjoying something special.
But at the end of the day, no one is here to tell you how to enjoy your wine. However, if you're passionate about wine and you love it. Then like all things you love, you want to have it again and again. You are hungry for it, which means you want to learn everything about it.
So if wine is your thing? Spend a little more time tasting it. Like a lover, the more time and attention you give her or him, how much more special do those moments become. Wine is no different...