Wine tasting is a fun activity to do with friends, but it can also be a great way to discover a new wine or deepen your appreciation for both wine and winemakers. Our most senior Tasting Room hostess, Maggie Harnett, shares her tips on what to look for when you’re tasting wine at .
Step 1: Look. Wine can have many shades, so examine what type of red, white or rose it may be. An older red wine will often have more orange tinges on the surface edges than younger red wines. Older white wines are darker than younger whites. The fermentation container, whether it be oak barrels or stainless steel tank, can also affect the color in white wine. Also note the wine’s opacity (watery, translucent, opaque, cloudy or clear).
Step 2: Aroma. Ever wonder why people swirl their wine? It helps release its natural aromas. Swirl for ten seconds and take a quick sniff. Next, stick your nose down into the glass and inhale deeply. Really get it in there, don’t be shy. Do you smell plum, spice, oak, or citrus?
Step 3: Taste. Take a sip and whirl it around in your mouth. There are three aspects to consider here:
1) Your first impression, what the pros call the Attack Phase. You’ll notice the wine’s alcohol content, tannin levels, sugar, and acidity.
2) The flavor profile, also known as the Evolution Phase, when you look for notes of fruit, spices, smokiness, or a host of other flavors.
3) The texture and finish, (finish—the industry term for “aftertaste”). As you swallow the wine, note whether it’s light-bodied (like the weight of water), medium-bodied (similar in weight to milk) or full-bodied (like the consistency of cream). Also note whether the taste lingers or is short-lived.
While this tasting process may sound too regimented to some, being mindful of these concepts as you’re tasting wine may lead you to a deeper appreciation for all its nuances, variations, and elements. My own understanding of wine has evolved as I’ve become more aware of my palate and my senses. When you connect smell, look, and texture to taste, you may notice a whole new way to experience wine. Cheers!