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How to Taste Wine?

Learning and knowing how to taste wines is great adventure that put you into the whole new world of wine. Tasting wine rather than simple drink wine will let us increase our appreciation of the beauty of the wine by allowing us to examine it in detail. 3 simple steps allow us to taste wine, Look, Smell and Taste.

Look (Appearance)

The main reason for looking the appearance of a wine is not checking the maturation of the wine. It use as the first indication of checking the faults of the wine. A faulty wine might cause by fail of cock seal which allowing air to damage the wine, or a wine stored badly such as too hot.

  • First check Clarity of the wine whether is clear. Dull, cloudiness or fizziness indicate a fault of the wine.
  • Second check the Intensity of the wine. Deeper a red, the younger the wine and/or thicker skinned the grapes.
  • What color is it? Different color can tell the approximate age of the wine.
    • White wine: become deeper or golden with age
    • Red wine: more purple when it is young, and the color usually uniform. The wine is getting old/mature, the color will become more orange, amber and brown and not uniform. The color at the rim is lighter than the centre.

Since every wine are different due to different grape and produces by different wine maker, so no definitive conclusion about actual age can be reach.

Smell (Nose)

Take a sniff of the wine at still, than swirl the wine to release as many aromas as possible and take a sniff once more. Some maturing wine may need swirl for 10+ second to increase the surface area to allow some oxygen into the wine, which helps the aromas open up.

  • First question to ask yourself, does it smell clean or unclean? Any off-notes?
    • This can tell you whether the bottle of wine is corked with cork taint.
  • Second question is what do you smell?
    • Do you smell oak, floral, fruity, nutty, mineral, herbal,etc? A wine's aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality and unique characteristics. Swirl the wine and let the aromas mix and mingle, and sniff again.
    • The aroma of the wine in the glass change time to time due to oxidation with oxygen.

Taste (Palate)

Finally the most enjoyable/important part, tasting the wine. To many people, tasting wine means taking a sip and swallowing immediately. To me, that isn't tasting, it's drinking. Tasting should take a sip of wine (not too much), do not swallow it, chewed and swirled around your palate while is also breathe in. It will releases the wine's aroma. Then let feels and exams the Sweetness, Acidity, Tannin, Body, Flavour and Length of the wine.

Can you taste the Sweetness of the wine?

Sweetness is experienced on the tip of the tongue, it is an indicator of how much sugar remain in the wine. Almost all Red, White and Champagne wine are dry, they don't have any sugar left. Some white wines tasted slightly sweet are described as "off-dry". Sweet wine, normally appear on those dessert wine, the sugar level can up to 100+ grams/Litre of wine. Is the wine dry, medium, off-dry or sweet?

Can you taste the Acidity of the wine?

Acidity should found on the sides of the tongue. White wines and wines from a cooler climates region generally result in higher levels of acidity. Acidity is very important, if it too low, the wines taste oversweet and cloying.

Can you taste the Tannin of the wine?

Tannin is what you tasted from the strong black tea which gave you bitter and astringent. The sensation of tannin begins the middle of the tongue. Tannin usually exists in red wines or white wines aged in barrels. Tannins are from the skin, seeds and stems of the grapes and the oak aging. Their presence in the wine depends on the amount of skin contact during winemaking. Thicker skin grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have much higher tannin levels than thin skin grapes like Pinot Noir. When the wine is too young, the tannin will dries your palate sensation, however tannin will soften with time pass.

Can you feel the Body of the wine?

Body is about the mouth feeling, it the sensation of richness, weight and viscosity of the wine. An easy way to understand the body, by compare with milk and cream.

A light body wine, usually mean it very watery. Like it's mixing 10% of milk into water. A medium body wine, it is more like drinking regular milk. For full body wine, it is more like tasting cream, where really somethings swirling around in your mouth.

What Flavour you can taste from the wine?

A simple Aroma Wheel can help you to identify the flavour.

How 'long' is the aftertaste of the wine?

Further taste the wine, a balance, pleasant finish where all the components of the wine lingers in your mouth for seconds. How long does the balance last in your mouth is the "Length". For inferior wine, the flavour may disappear almost instantly. However for a high quality wine which might give a long pleasing aftertaste, even upto a minute long.

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