7 tips on how to taste wine like a professional, as a beginner
If you’re new to wine tasting, the prospect of identifying the subtle differences between bottles can seem daunting. However, with a little guidance, it is possible to develop your palate and begin to appreciate the complex flavours that wine has to offer. In this blog post, we will give you 7 tips on how to taste wine like a professional.
How to taste wine like a professional
When it comes to wine, the nose knows
We smell the wine first to check the wine has no fault and to check if the wine is corked. Believe it or not, corked wine often will have a distinct, musty aroma of wet cardboard, wet dog or wet newspaper. Sometimes it might lack aroma completely and have very little taste.
Aromas can be incredibly powerful, evoking memories and associations that can affect the way we taste a wine. That’s why it’s important to take a moment to smell your wine before taking a sip. See if you can identify any fruit aromas, floral scents, or herbaceous aromas. Doing so can give you a better sense of what the wine will taste like and help you to appreciate its flavour profile more fully.
Swirl the wine in your glass
Swirling your wine glass before taking a sip is often seen as a pretentious act, but there’s actually science behind it. Swirling allows oxygen to interact with the wine, which releases its aromas and helps to soften the tannins. This process gives you a better sense of the wine’s flavour profile, allowing you to enjoy it more fully.
Take a generous sip of the wine
Our tongue is a clever muscle, with different areas that register sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. This is why it’s important to take a big enough sip to coat the tongue in the wine and swirl it around your whole mouth. Try to identify the specific flavours that are present. Are they sweet, sour, fruity, floral, or mineral-driven?
Wine tasters can also tell the grape’s growing climate from tasting the wine, for example, wines made from grapes in cold climates, will have profiles that are more acidic and lighter, whereas, the profile of the wine in a warmer climate will be more full-bodied, and rich in alcohol.
Often, professional wine connoisseurs will also suck in a small sip of air, which allows the olfactory receptor at the back of the nose to register the tastes and aromas, providing a sensory experience.
Notice the wine’s legs
To help give you an understanding of the wine’s flavours, pay attention to its legs. The legs are the streaks of liquid that run down the inside of the glass after you swirl it. The thicker the legs, the higher the alcohol content and viscosity of the wine. Thicker wines often have more intense flavours.
Take a sip of water after drinking the wine
This will help to cleanse your palate and make it easier to identify the flavours present in the wine. In addition, it is important to pay attention to both the smell and the taste of the wine. Swirling the wine in your glass can help to release its aroma, and taking small sips will allow you to savour its flavour.
Pay attention to how the wine feels on your tongue
When it comes to wine, there is more to taste than just the flavour. The texture of the wine is just as important and can give you clues about its quality and origins. To get the full experience, pay attention to how the wine feels on your tongue. Is it acidic? Creamy? Silky? The answer will depend on the grape variety, the terroir, the weather and the winemaking process.
Note how the wine changes as it ages
Some wines are good to drink fresh and others will benefit with ageing. The Wines that have potential for ageing, are typically rich, full bodied with high acidity and are high in tannins. As wines age, they slowly develop more complex characteristics and aromas like brioche, bread dough, cheese and biscuits from yeast and autolysis.
Wine aged in Oak barrels will carry aromas such as vanilla, coconut, toast, smoke, chocolate and even coffee. As wine ages further, the aromas and flavours can also show a deliberate oxidation profile, such as almond, hazelnut, walnuts, chocolate and caramel.
You’ll also find fruit development in some wines, with flavours and aromas like dried apricot, marmalade, dry apples and dry prunes found in white wines and fig, tar, dried blackberries and cooked prunes found in red wine.
White wine will also develop some bottle ageing characteristics such as honey, hay, nutmeg, toast, game and tobacco, but this largely depends on the grape variety
Tannins and other phenolic compounds slowly soften, giving the wine a rounder, smoother texture. Acidity levels also decrease over time, resulting in a wine that is less tart and more mellow.
If you’d like to experience wine tasting for yourself, our Vineyard Tours and Tastings are a great way to sample a variety of wines. You’ll be led by Oastbrook wine makers, Nick and America, who will be able to talk you through how to get the most out of each glass.
Book your Vineyard Tour and Tasting here.