April 29, 2019

Wine degustation: 7 simple steps on the way to expertise

A lot of people are convinced that wine tasting is the most complex process and incomprehensible to ordinary people. But this is not the case, in this business, however, as well as in any other, the ability comes with practice, but even a “new -coming sommelier” can learn how to taste wine, through 7 simple steps.

Three rules of degustation

Before you start an exciting journey, you need to learn three simple rules not to be violated at tasting by anyone, and especially the beginner:

  1. When you taste wine, in any case do not listen to anyone’s comments. All discussions later on.
  2. Do not talk during the tasting, do not distract from your own feelings.
  3. Before tasting, wash your mouth with clean water, do not use perfume and do not smoke. During the tasting do not take food.

Advice: after your compete degustation process discuss your impressions and feelings with other participants.

Step One: pour and observe

Fill a wine glass with wine by one third and watch. Shape of the glass is of importance: it should be transparent, so as not to obscure the “wine dress”, shaped like a tulip, that is, to be slightly closed up and certainly with a long leg, in order to avoid heating the wine in hand and for convenience to perform rotational movements.

Now take the glass by the leg, raise it to eye level, tilt slightly, look through and evaluate its color, saturation, reflections or sparkle. It is better to do it on a white background (against a napkin or a sheet of paper) to better highlight the shade of wine. Young white wine usually has a greenish hue, aged wine – an amber one. Young red wine has a purple hue, and the aged wine – the brick one. Wine should shine and, in any case, not be dull.

Step Two: rotate slowly

Rotate the glass slowly, as if “twisting” wine on its inner walls. The glass will have arches, the so-called “legs” and “tears”. They show the viscosity (the rate at which wine falls from the edges) and the alcohol content: the more the arches, the narrower and slower are the “legs”, the higher the level of saturation of wine with alcohol is.

Step Three: drink the aroma

Stop the glass and drink its aroma. Breath in slowly, deeply and after a few seconds move away from the glass, so as not to get used to the smell. The main thing is the first impression of the bouquet. Remember your impressions at each stage.

Step Four: rotate wide

Rotate the glass with slow and spacious movements to release any volatile substances, and occasionally come back to it, evaluating the parameters:

  • Aroma (it can be full, noble, pronounced, delicate, thin, slight, subtle, natural, for example, fruity, spicy, vegetable, animal, balsamic, empir aromatic, ie, fried, burnt, tobacco, coffee, etc.)
  • Intensity, the strength of aroma perception
  • Perseverance, as to for how long the fragrance “stays” in the nose
  • Complexity, i.e. the number of notes; quality (the bouquet is evaluated from “ordinary” to “excellent»)

Step Five: drink

It’s time to taste the wine. Take a sip and, before swallowing, hold wine in your mouth a bit to allow the taste buds of the tongue and the palete feel its taste, intensity, tactile sensations. Wine can be more or less sweet, soft (if it leaves a velvety feeling) or angular, more or less astringent (due to tannin content), fresh or sour, structured or light (depending on its viscosity and alcohol content).

Step Six: aerate and spit out

Take another sip, this time trying to let a small amount of air through the teeth to enhance the perception of taste. Solid wine leaves an impression of harmony and balance between sweet, sour, bitter and salty components. After swallowing, concentrate on the resistance of the fragrance, up to a maximum of 15 seconds, and then the aftertaste. If we have to taste a lot of drinks, we don’t swallow but spit the wine.

Step Seven: put together your feelings

Record your impressions and feelings received during the tasting, and compare them with the views of other participants. To make a more accurate assessment of wine, you can use the evaluation sheets (they are easy to find on the Internet) and create your own personal archive of wines. Learning and practicing, we will improve our skills and gradually increase the level of our competence.

Wine is a magic drink and the ability to taste it lets us understand what is actually hidden in the glass. Tasting is neither a great art nor a “gift of God” as many of us think. The ability to taste wine is an ability of everyone, just some people do it at a professional level, as they are constantly improving in their field of activity. The one being able to taste wine is primarily the moderately curious person, as it is exactly the quality that allows you to find drinks that can give pleasure. Olfactory and taste accuracy is a natural gift that can be trained over time like others. And it is important to remember that wine is not mathematics, but a pure heart, open to create new sensations.

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