Monday, March 22, 2010

Wine Tasting Basics: Part 1

The best advice I have heard is that wine tasting is best learnt from tasting than reading. Here is a little guide to start your wine tasting experience.

Preparation: In order to accurately pick up the fine nuances of wine, we need to first remove all outside influences.
  • Light: we need good natural light, not too dim, with a white surface or background. (A white napkin would do)
  • Odour: Make sure the glass don't smell like cleaning product, and the environment doesn't smell like tobacco, food or perfume
  • Flavour: Our palate should be clean. Swish your mouth with water or chew a piece of bread can help.
  • Health: Make sure you are not sick or have a stuffy nose. A functioning nose is the most important tool for wine tasting.
Preparing the wine: White, rosé, and sparkling all require chilling. Even some red wine requires a little cooling if you are tasting in the summer. The temperature is determined by the amount of alcohol and sugar in the wine. The less alcohol and the sweeter the wine, the cooler it needs to be.
  • Medium-Full bodied red: Room temperature @ 17-18ºC (62.6-64.4ºF)
  • Light-bodied red: 12ºC (53.6ºF)
  • Medium/full-bodied oaked white: 12ºC (53.6ºF)
  • Light/medium-bided white: 10ºC (50ºF)
  • Sparkling and Sweet wine: 6-8ºC (42.8-46.4ºF)
Once the wine is chilled, you can go ahead and open it. Here is a great video about how to uncorked a bottle of wine properly. However, sparkling wine requires a completely different method.

Glass sizes: You may have heard that different wines require different shape and sizes of glasses. This is sort of correct. If you put a delicate wine wine is a large bordeaux glass, it would have a negative effect on the tasting experience. If you put brandy in a champaign glass, you will probably kill more than a few nerves in your nose and brain. However, the differences between serving wine is an one-size-fits-all standard glass and a wine specific glass are very minimal. In fact, professional wine tasting only use ISO glasses, which only come in one size.

Here is a pretty good video about temperature, glass, amount of wine.

Next post, we are ready to actually "taste" the wine.

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