How To Taste Wine
Wine tasting is simply a process applied to distinguish the taste of fine wines. One must be able to note the differences between different types of wines and for expert tasters, also the differences between the vintages of the same class of wine. Sometimes the tasting is called wine de gustation. The most important part of any tasting is the ‘what and How’. The what, refers to what you’re looking for, the brand and type. While the how determines origin and fermentation process.
The first thing to do in any wine tasting is to look. Always start by pouring the wine into a clean clear glass, then taking a few minutes to look at the color. You should know that the color for white wine is not white, but actually yellow, green, or brown. On the other hand Red wines are normally a pale red or dark brown color. Red wine taste better with age, while white wine stale with age.
The next step is the smell. A good whiff will give you an impression of what to expect from the wine when you taste it. Please take note of the aroma, is it fresh or foul? And again does it smell like wine. Take time to think about the smell before tasting it.
The first step in tasting is to take a small sip. The small sip allows our mouth to get a quick preview and some expectations. Only after the sip approval do we take in a mouth full and swish. Swishing gives a better full taste of the flavor of the wine. It is normally during swishing, that you discover if the wine is bitter, salty or sweet. Severe cold do affect your taste bud and tasting under the influence of one will make the taste appear different.
The last step is to decide if you want to spit or swallow the wine. Personally, I swallow the wine considering all the efforts. If this is the only wine or one of two or three you will sample at the event, swallowing is definitely an appropriate option. But on the other hand, if you are at a winery and going through 5 or 6 wines, spitting is usually your best option.
Otherwise, every wine is going to start tasting funny because of all the different brands and you might end up drunk as well. Remember when you drink different types of alcohol like mixing vodka and rum, you get drunk faster, same theory applies here.
Tasting will also reveal other pertinent nuances about the wine. You should be able to tell if the flavor is derived from the aging barrel or oak chips. You also can tell about the sweetness or bitterness.
Wine tasters do follow some general guidelines and rules that judge how great a wine is. It is these techniques that can help you bring the most out of your wine, providing you follow them and know how to bring out the taste.
After all, the real test is did you like it. Tasting wine requires some protocols as listed above, but the most important part is for you to enjoy yourself.
How To Store Wine
Having invested possibly hundreds of dollars in your latest bottle of vintage wine (ah well, we can but dream), the next important decision is where to store this prized possession?
The main issue when it comes to storing wine is that it needs to be maintained at a cool temperature of between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius. Shoved under the bed won’t do.
Many modern wines do not need to be aged over a great period of time; therefore extensive cellars are often unnecessary. Having said this, if you have the time, space and resource to excavate a cellar, your wine will surely benefit. A purpose built cellar is not normally an option for most households and so suitable alternatives must be explored.
Ideal areas for storage include a corner of a garage, garden shed, an unused fireplace or a cupboard that is against an outside wall.
Wherever you choose to store your wine, a few basic criteria are worth keeping in mind.
Choose an area that is less likely to be subjected to fluctuating temperatures caused by household heating systems.
Wines benefit from being kept in dark conditions. Although this is not always practical, wine should certainly be stored in an area that is not exposed it to direct sunlight.
As a final point, always store your wine bottles on their side. Corks are designed to be kept moist, so that they remain airtight and do not crumble when a corkscrew is inserted.
Bear in mind that some wines do not benefit from being stored at all. If you have poor or no storage facilities available, consider purchasing wine that matures quickly such as most white wines or new technology reds or, possibly, a new Beaujolais.
Move wine as little as possible once it has been placed in storage, unless of course it is being moved into a glass!
If you have a particularly special wine collection, it may be worth engaging a specialist company to store your wine for you (Oops, I’m dreaming again). Good storage has been recognized as vital for many wines and as such, many companies now provide storage facilities. Of course, this does not come cheap and is best reserved for those very special bottles or for those experts who are considering selling their wine on, at a future date.
How To Serve Wine
Perhaps you have selected an occasion to open that special bottle of wine that you have been saving, or maybe you are hosting a dinner party. Knowing how to properly open, serve, and enjoy your wine will make the experience that much more memorable, as well as allow you to experience the wine that much more fully. Wine service has a few basic elements of importance, including temperature of the wine, opening the bottle, allowing the wine to breathe, choosing glasses, and pouring.
The temperature of the wine when it is served is imperative. White wines should be served chilled, which can be accomplished in your refrigerator. Place your whites in the refrigerator one to two hours before serving, allowing their temperatures to drop to about fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. White wines are served chilled due to their high acidity levels, which are moderated when cooled. Be sure not to store your wine in the fridge, however, as this can destroy the flavor, making it dull and flat. If you do not have two hours to spare, placing the wine in a bucket of ice water will effectively cool the wine.
Red wines are served differently. They can be chilled via refrigerator for thirty to forty-five minutes, until they have reached about sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered “room temperature.” Reds are served at a slightly cooler temperature because it slows down the evaporation process, which will improve the bouquet and flavor of the wine. If you serve red wine at an overly-chilled temperature it will take on a bitter taste.
Should you forget about the red wine in the refrigerator and it becomes too cold, there are various remedies to this situation. Try pouring the bottle into a warm decanter or warm wine glasses. If you are in a real jam, you can use the microwave, but use caution; cooked wine is not good. Place the bottle in the microwave for only about fifteen to twenty seconds.
After you have prepared your wine to the proper temperature, it is ready to be opened. Begin by removing the metal foil that surrounds the cork. This can be accomplished with either a specialized foil cutter or a sharp knife. Most all in one corkscrews will be equipped with this type of apparatus. Be sure that no jagged pieces remain, as they can be very sharp and cut your fingers when you are pouring, or cause the wine to dribble out all over. Remove the cork with the corkscrew. Should you experience problems with the cork, such as splitting, you may be left with no choice other than to push the cork back into the bottle. Using a small skewer to hold back the cork, pour the wine into a decanter, straining it with either small vegetable steamer or coffee filter. This will ensure that any damaged cork does not appear in your next glass of wine.
If you are de-corking a sparkling wine or champagne, use caution. These bottles are opened by twisting off a metal guard. Use a spoon to achieve this as it is much easier on your fingers and nails. Untwist the guard carefully, and then pop the cork off with the bottle facing away from yourself and other guests. Be sure not to have shaken up the bottle in the process, or the instantaneous contact with the open air will cause an eruption of your wine.
You may choose to allow your reds to breathe directly after opening, especially for that serious bottle. Pour the wine into a decanter and allow the wine to open up for a couple of hours.
After pouring, you are ready to choose the stem-wear for your wines. The most common of glasses is the tulip shape due to its wide bowl and narrower top with long stem. This makes an ideal glass for swirling the wine, as it gets a lot of movement with little fear of spillage. The narrow top also traps the bouquet, making it more able to deliver the fragrance. A long stem is advisable for holding the glass during enjoyment, as this prevents any change in temperature. Using this type of glass is usually acceptable for both reds and whites, especially if you do not want to have to clean more than one round of glasses.
There are a new variety of wine glasses available; those without stems. They sit up on the bowl of the glass. They allow the wine to breathe wonderfully during consumption and display remarkable aroma. They can cause the drinker to leave fingerprints on the glass as well as change the temperature by constant handling, but the choice is yours.
Be sure to fill your glasses about half way, especially since most of the glasses we use are considerably large. This also gives the wine a chance to breathe upon pouring, as well as allow for swirling. Be sure to serve light bodied before full bodied wines, and young before olds. This keeps the palate fresher longer.
How To Pour The Perfect Glass Of Wine
To pour the perfect glass of wine you must take several steps:
Temperature Of The Wine:
The temperature at which a wine is served makes an immense impact on its taste. Serving wine while cool will mask some imperfections which is good for younger or cheaper wines. However, a warmer wine temperature allows a more full expression of the wine’s characteristics which is favourable when serving an an older or more expensive wine.
A bottle of wine will cool at about 2 °C (4 °F) for every ten minutes in the fridge, and it will warm at about this same rate when removed and left at room temperature. Obviously, the temperature of the room will affect the speed with which the wine warms up. If you need to chill a bottle of wine quickly, 35 minutes in the freezer will do the trick. Just don’t forget to take the bottle out!
Decanting The Wine:
Decanting is pouring wine into a container before serving. Decanting is typically only required with older wines or Ports, which contain sediment that can add bitterness to the wine.
Wine decanters may improve the flavor of older red wines.
Younger wines also benefit from the aeration that decanting provides. Of course, a wine decanter may also be used simply for aesthetic reasons.
Before decanting a wine that contains sediment, allow the bottle to rest upright allowing any sediment to sink to the bottom. Then slowly pour the wine into the decanter keeping the bottle angled so that no sediment makes its way into the decanter. The wine may be poured through cheesecloth to assist in filtering out any unwanted particles. Decanting wine should be done out of sight of any guests.
Pouring The Wine:
Still wines should be poured towards the center of the glass, while sparkling wines should be poured against the side, like a beer, so that unwanted bubbles do not show up.
To control drips, one can twist the bottle slightly while tilting it upright. When pouring wine, glass should be filled no more than two-thirds. This will allow guests to swirl the wine and smell the bouquet. A glass can always be refilled if desired. Of course, serve wine to the women and older guests first, then the men and end with your own glass.
Types Of Wine Glasses:
As important as serving temperature is the type of glass in which wines are served. The shape of a wine glass can affect the taste of the wine, and for this reason different types of wine are served in specific glasses. The three main types of wine glasses are as follows:
White wine glasses : shaped like a tulip
Red wine glasses : rounded with large bowl
Sparkling wine flutes : tall and thin
A suitable all-purpose wine glass should hold about ten ounces and be transparent to allow the taster to examine the color of the wine as well as its body Moreover, it should have a slight curve in at the top to hold in the bouquet. While an all-purpose wine glass is fine for serving a red wine, be sure not to serve a white wine in a red wine glass.
How to Become a Wine Connoisseur
You and your buddies used to stay up all night drinking beer and doing whisky shots. You’d have drinking games which ended up in everyone getting plastered. But that’s exactly what your parents did during college and probably their parents, too. The times are changing now, though, and there are plenty of new things to try. Wine tasting is just one new growing trend that’s becoming a part of many young people’s communities throughout America.
Now, if you grew up in Italy or France, you’ve probably been drinking watered down wine since you were about four or five years old. Catholics drink wine at mass every Sunday and wine is served with every single meal. It’s common practice and tradition. But in America, drinking wine has been something that’s been reserved for special dates or older connoisseurs. Recently, though, wine has found its way into the dorm rooms and apartments of a younger population.
So, you want to be a part of this growing trend. It’s easier than it sounds, but there’s still a little research that you’ll need to do. You can’t just head down to your local liquor or grocery store and pick up any random bottles of wine that strike your fancy. Do some research online. There are plenty of resources for determining what type of wine you’ll like best. And there are hundreds of different wines. And it’s best to get a range. Get five or six bottles. You’re already trying something new, so why not go all out? Be sure to ask your friends to bring over some wine of their own, too.
Next comes the cheese. Cheese is always a great thing to be eating along with wine, especially if you’ll be trying many different types of wine. You can also try out new types of cheese; there are literally thousands of varieties. Not all of them will go well with wine, but if you do a little homework and get a variety, you’ll do fine. Try looking at health food stores or Farmer’s Market.
You can’t have a wine tasting party by yourself, so be sure to invite a lot of friends, particularly members of the opposite sex if you want to impress them with your new, mature pastime. Make it clear that only wine is to be served. No other alcohol, period. Make flyer invitations. Lay out platters of sliced cheese ahead of time and be sure to have plenty of wine glasses. Drinking wine out of a paper cup just isn’t the same, according to Death Cab for Cutie. For some added fun, have your friends bring over some new music CDs and have an area clear for dancing.
Once you have a wine tasting party, I’m sure you’ll find that this could very well be a new hobby of yours. It may be something that you’ll want to take part in at events and when it comes to the next big date, you’ll be able to impress by knowing exactly what to order.
How To Choose An Italian Wine
Wine connoisseurs regularly boast about their fine Italian wine collections and rightly so. Even if you’re not a connoisseur, by the end of this article you’ll be able to put your best Italian wine forward.
Italy is best known for its Moscato, Barolo, Chianti, and Soave; but there are numerous varieties just waiting to be enjoyed. Italy produces more wine than any other country and it produces the largest selection of wines. When you choose an Italian wine, even if you have no wine buying skills, the odds of finding a poor one are very slim so relax!
Wine from the Piedmont region provides red wines that are light bodied and refreshing. This is where the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines come from.
The Barbera grape appears in full body reds. The Dolcetto grape is light bodied and distinctly dry. The Nebbiolo grape is responsible for the dry, full body wines of the area. The Moscato Bianco is the grape responsible for the sparkling white wines from the area.
And then there is the indulgence of Chianti from the Tuscany region. Chances are you’ve indulged in this lovely wine if you’ve ever dined in an Italian restaurant. The popular region wines include Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile di Monepulciano, and Vernaccia de San Giminagno.
The Sangiovese grape with its robust flavor is used in medium and full bodied red wines. Vernaccia is the grape of choice for a variety of sweet and dry white wines.
You can order wines from Italy in any color, style, or flavor; but if you want to be sure you are choosing a good Italian wine look for the DOCG classification. This doesn’t guarantee a better tasting wine, it just indicates level of quality that’s been maintained for at least 5 years which puts the odds in your favor.
Remember this easy rule of thumb. Reds go with red meats and whites go with white meats. It’s a simple rule that goes a long way in helping choose a wine for your meal.
Italians strictly regulate their wines within four classification from tightly regulated superior wines to lenient regulations and creative innovation. The are as follows:
1. DOCG is the strictest of the regulation levels. Output yield is regulated; the wine’s composition is analyzed; there is a minimum alcohol content; and there are minimum aging periods.
2. DOC is the qualification of all quality wines. Output yield is regulated; origin is regulated; there is a minimum alcohol content; there are minimum aging periods; and grape variety is regulated.
3. IGT is classified as excellent value for the cost. There are less quality restrictions, as well as wider territories; and grape ratios are not regulated.
4. Table Wine is the wine that is consumed on a daily basis in Italy. It includes some of the most expensive wines and some of the least expensive wines. The level of alcohol is regulated and so are the wine making techniques.
That’s it. Now wasn’t that simple? You are on your way to being a connoisseur of Italian wine!
How To Choose French Wines
You don’t need a book to follow this method.
Appellation Controlee (AC or AOC) is the top grade of French. AC is a part of French law that guarantees that a wine comes from where the label says it does, that it is made from specific grapes and that it is produced in a certain way.
So, first we assume that you are choosing an AC (Appellation Controlee) wine.
You will probably have already chosen between red wine, white wine or Rose.
First Quality Rule:
Make sure the wine has sufficient alcohol content for its type. This means at least 13% for a Bordeaux, but only 11% for a Gros Plant from the mouth of the Loire. 12-13% for a Tavel Rose from the Rhone Valley; 12% for Anjou Rose from the Loire. Alcohol level is easier to achieve in these days of global warming than it used to be so in some ways this is less of a guide.
Second Quality Rule:
Is it Chateau bottled or bottled by the proprietor ? It should be. If it is not then it will probably be a blend from different producers. Not necessarily bad, but not the best. Bottling by a negociant is less acceptable these days than it was.
Third Quality Rule:
Has the wine ever won any awards ? You need to be looking for gold medals on the label. It seems trivial to non-French people, but if the wine producer thinks well of his wine he will be competing for this kind of award, and will be proud to have the medal on his label.
Fourth Quality Rule:
Is the bottle numbered ? Here again if the wine producer thinks well of his wine he may take the extra care to number his output and put a serial number on his label. Quite what you can use the numbers for (apart from this wine quality test) is a subject for speculation.
Fifth Quality Rule:
Is the cork sufficiently long for the wine ? This really applies to wines that may be kept for a long time before drinking, as a long cork preserves the wine more surely. If a short cork was used then there is a question mark against the wine – the producer thought more about his costs than his wine. The only snag about this rule by the way is that the cork is at least partly concealed by the capsule (the metal foil wrapper).