Learn to Taste Wines
Wine tasting is the process by which we can analyze the physical properties of a drink, in this case of a wine. Through this process we can analyze the color, texture, smell and taste in order to determine the quality of the wine, the year of harvest and alcoholic content. It is true that a professional taster must be in good health, do not smoke, do not use strong perfumes when tasting and must not have respiratory problems among others, because all these factors influence the accuracy of results.
However, the process of tasting, seeing it in a not so professional manner, is very simple and all of us who have our visual faculties running, nose without respiratory diseases and our taste working properly can practice the art of tasting.
In order to appreciate the properties of a wine properly, ideally is to have a glass with a fairly wide bowl and a narrow rim, as this will allow a better concentration of aromas. The ideal material should be glass and being more specific, the ideal glass for the process of tasting is "AFNOR". It is also recommended to fill 1/3 of the glass to allow better mobility to the wine. On the other hand, the correct way of gripping the glass is from the stem or foot, not from the bowl since the hand transmit heat and we don't want to alter the temperature of the wine.
The technique involves three tasting analysis: (in facial order from top to bottom) the visual analysis, olfactory analysis and gustatory analysis.
- A good wine usually has good brightness and no foreign bodies.
- To know if a wine is old or young let's look at it's color. White wines turn yellow with the passing of years, while red wines tends to lose color (violet red wines have few years of aging while orange and wines with low brightness are the oldest).
- To determine the alcohol content we must stir the glass (gipping from the stem) in a circular motion trying to tarnish the walls and waiting for tears to drop. If the wine has a high alcohol level tears are thick and they take time to form and drop. In case of wines with low alcohol level the opposite happens; tears are thin and descend quickly. The alcoholic content is normally between 11.5 ° to 17 °.
Olfactory Analysis: (consists of 3 nose strokes )
- 1st stroke: Without swirling the glass introduce nose to the center of the bowl (bringing it close and pulling away) and breathe detecting floral flavors (rose, jasmine, violet etc.) and fruity flavors (peach, apple, blackberry etc.). These are called "primary aromas"
- 2nd stroke: Stir or slightly tilt the glass and do the same as in the 1st stroke. Smells are detected from the fermentation process (dairy, yeast, alcohol, etc.). These aromas are called "secondary flavors" .
- 3rd stroke: Swirl the glass with stronger agitations. Flavors obtained by aging are detected. These are called "tertiary aromas" and usually are chocolate, vanilla or the own wooden barrel where the wine was aged.
Gustatory Analysis: (The wine position in your tongue is important)
- The tip of the tongue is responsible for sweet tastes.
- The sides of the tongue are responsible for the acidic and salty flavors.
- The rear where the tongue begins handles bitter tastes.
Thus, through these 3 analysis we can determine whether a wine has good quality if it has good fluency and brightness (visual analysis), clean aromas and their intensities (olfactory analysis) and the persistence of perceived flavors (gustatory analysis).
It is worth mentioning that the finest wines are those with a DO (Designation of Origin), which is contained in the bottle, meaning that they have gone through rigorous quality testing and have a story behind them.