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Tasting Wine

November 05, 2018

Tasting Wine

Interestingly, smelling a wine is critical to testing it. So, how should you smell wine correctly? Start by swirling the wine in the glass, this aerates the wine. The best way to do this is to place the wine glas on a table, and holding it by the stem, rapidly move it as if you were drawing small circles.

As for actually smelling, or nosing, the wine, nothing is achieved by holding your nose two inches above the glass. You have to get your nose into the glass near the wine, and then take a series of short sniffs. The smell of a wine may be called its aroma, nose, or bouquet.

What is taste? 
Taken together, aroma, body, texture and flavour comprise what we refer to as taste.

1. Body
A wine's body is described as light, medium or full, or some permutation in between. Imagine the relative weights of skimmed milk, whole milk, or half and half, in your mouth. A light bodied wine, like skimmed milk slides easily down your throat. A medium bodied wine has more viscosity, like full fat milk or whole milk. A full bodied wine seems to coat your palate, like half and half. Body in other words is solely about the weight of the wine in your mouth, and has nothing to do with quality, intensity of flavour or finish.

2. Texture
Closely related to body is texture or mouthfeel. A wine's mouthfeel is the tactile impression it leaves in your mouth. Fabrics are often used as metaphors i.e. a wine maybe described as being as smooth as silk. In order to assess a wine's texture, you have to roll it around in your mouth and literally feel it. Swallow too quickly, and you will miss this aspect of wine altogether.

3. Flavour
Flavour is more complex and difficult to describe than body and texture. We commonly describe flavour as being composed of four basic tastes - sweet, sour, bitter and salty (although salty is not a category that occurs in wine).

Flavours and aromas of white wine
Fruit - fresh: apple, apricot, bananas, coconut, fig, grapefruit, lemon, lime, melon, peach, pear, pineapple.
Cooked: baked apple, baked pear
Butter and cream - butter, butterscotch, cream, custard
Vegetables - asparagus, bell peppers, olives
Nuts - almonds, hazelnuts
Spices - cinnamon, cloves, ginger, white pepper
Flowers - gardenia, geranium, honeysuckle, rose
Earth - chalk, grass, hay
Barrel aromas and flavours - oak, vanilla
Honey 

Flavours and aromas of red wine
Fruit - fresh: blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry, dried orange peel, plum, pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry
Cooked: baked blackberry, cherry, raspberry and prunes
Vegetables - asparagus, bell pepper, mushroom, truffles, olives
Chocolate - bitter chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate, mocha
Coffee
Spices and herbs - black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, liquorice and mint
Tobacco - pipe tobacco, smoke
Flowers - rose, geranium and violet
Earth - cedar, damp earth, dried leaves, eucalyptus and pine
Barrel aromas and flavours - oak and vanilla
Other aromas and flavours - leather and tar