Wine Tasting 1
For centuries, corks, which come from oak trees grown in Portugal and Spain, have been used to preserve bottled wine. However, the trend is toward using a synthetic cork or Stelvin Screw Caps, which provide tight, vacuum-like seals and won’t flake off into the wine. When opening a corked bottle of wine, first remove the capsule around the cork by cutting the seal on the underside of the bottle’s lip. Once you’ve removed the capsule, wipe the top of the cork clean, removing any dust, mold or other contaminants that have accumulated in storage. Next, insert the corkscrew into the cork and turn it until it’s deep into the cork. Then, lift the cork one-quarter of the way out, turn the screw farther into the cork, and pull the cork three-quarter of the way out. At this point, use your hands to wiggle out the cork.
Wine Tasting 2
There are different shapes of glasses for different types of wines. Typically, glasses with wider, deeper bowls are used for red wines, while narrower stemware is used to serve white or sparking wines. When pouring wine, aim for the center of the glass and fill it not quite half full. Then, before moving the bottle from the glass, give it a turn to prevent dripping on the counter or tablecloth.
Wine Tasting 3
The basic steps of wine tasting are to assess color, swirl the wine, smell it, taste it and savor it. Hold up the glass of wine against a clean backdrop, and assess the wine’s shade and opacity. Color tells you a lot about the wine you’re drinking. An older red wine will have a darker, even brownish, color, and will be more translucent than a younger wine, which will range from purple to ruby. A young white wine will be a yellow-green. Also, some grapes produce a deeper color than others.
Wine Tasting 4
Tilt your glass and swirl the wine. This allows oxygen to get into the wine, releasing molecules that, when combined with oxygen, enhance the wine’s overall smell, also known as “bouquet.” Give the wine a whiff. You may smell essences of oak, berries, nuts, vanilla, flowers or other fragrances. Do this a few times to fully assess the wine’s bouquet. You don’t want to smell vinegar, mold or sulfur, which are signs of defects.
Wine Tasting 5
Take a sip of the wine and allow it to linger on your tongue for up to five seconds before swallowing. What are the flavors? Is the wine sweet? Is it acidic, indicated by a sour taste? Are the flavors balanced? Is the tannin (a natural compound in grapes that produces a bitter taste) too strong? After your initial taste, sit back and reflect on the experience. Did the wine leave a pleasing aftertaste? What was its texture: light-bodied like water, medium-bodied like milk or full-bodied like cream? What foods would bring out the wine’s flavors? And, most importantly, do you like it?