Some of us have no idea how to taste wine, some of us would call ourselves professionals. For those of you open to learning here are some great tips and tricks for tasting wine:
Using your nose
The majority of your sense of taste comes from your nose. This is the most important part of wine tasting. Actually, this is the most important part of enjoying food. Sense of smell is so underused that if you practice a little, you’ll blow people away with your sudden chef-like skills.
Most wine professionals smell the wine and then disassociate that aroma from what it smells like e.g a blueberry. A great trick is to pretend you’re not smelling wine and then identify what you are smelling. Perhaps it’s cherries or perhaps it smells like that time when you walked out onto the concrete after a summer rain. There are no wrong answers.
Smelling Tips: This method can seem difficult because there are many aromatics happening at the same time and it’s hard to ‘split-up’ the smells. Don’t despair, just start with the most obvious thing and then try to identify more nuanced aromas. One thing you can do to help ‘neutralize’ your nose is to smell some coffee beans.
Pay attention to texture
Besides the taste of a food or wine, pay attention to the texture and how a taste evolves in your mouth. Red wine contains alcohol, acids, tannin and sometimes sugar (if only in tiny amounts). All of these individual components can be identified with our mouth.
Sweetness in wine: Sweetness is something you have to taste up front and right away. It hits you for a split second on the tip of your tongue. While plain sugar does hang on our tastebuds as a lingering oily-sour note, it’s hard to identify it after the initial burst. Many red wines have just a teensy touch of residual sugar to give wine more body.
Taste alcohol in wine: The sensation of alcohol is something you feel towards the back of your throat. Through experience, you will identify alcohol level within a percentage.
Tannins: Tannin is both a textural component and a bitter flavour in wine. High-tannin wines almost feel like having a wet tea bag on your tongue; they dry your mouth out. Grape tannins tend to have more grip and will stick to your lips to your teeth. Oak tannins vary quite a bit but most oak tannins hit the sides and centre back of your tongue.
Acidity: The tartness or the sourness of a wine. Acidity ranges in wine go from butter-like to lemony. Acidity is something that persists in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. High acidity will make your mouth water.
Take your time with everything you taste, there is no race. Slowing down will help you develop a better sense of taste.
By the way, everyone starts out with around 10,000 taste buds that your body naturally replaces every 2 weeks. As you age, this number goes down to about half. So no matter who you are, it’s important to maximize your ability to taste while you can. Your taste bud numbers can also be reduced from smoking or drinking scalding beverages.