Drinking wine might just be a nice experience for you. You may think that every wine tastes the same, or almost the same… Did I get you there? Do you know how to drink wine like a pro? I mean drinking wine in a structured way that will allow you to recall the flavour and start acting like a wine connoisseur. You got me?
It is very simple and fun! This is also an opportunity to pace down after a big day, just you and your glass of wine, going back to your roots!
So, are you ready?
There are three steps in wine tasting:
- Seeing or “Eye”,
- Smelling or “Nose”,
- Tasting or “Palate”.
First, you have a look at what’s inside your glass. What is the colour and consistency of the wine? The colour and thickness will provide information about the age of the wine and its variety (white, red, dry, sweet, old, young, etc.).
You can start thinking about the colour: Is it pale white or gold white? Is it vibrant red, almost violet, or is it similar to red brick? All of these are indications about the age. It is very logical. A young red wine will always be close to violet with vibrant color. On the contrary, an old red wine will be close to a brick color with less intensity.
Then, look at its thickness. If your wine is sweet and has more alcohol, you will notice that its consistency is different. That’s the famous “tears” of wine that stay longer on the glass.
Then, you are ready to put your nose on the top of your glass. Close your eyes and smell. In wine smelling, we have two steps.
The first step is smelling the wine without doing anything else.
The second step is to move your glass, as you have seen some specialists do, scrolling their glass from the right to the left or from the left to the right. Why? Because you have to wake up your wine. Remember in my first article I was telling you that wine is alive, still living and growing in its bottle, which is the magic of it. So, after months or years of staying in its bottle, you need to wake him up! You will see different flavours appear when you will start moving your glass!
At first you will have the “primary flavours”. Those are the varietals ones: floral, fruity, vegetal, spicy, mineral…
Then comes the “secondary flavours”, which come from the fermentation process: yeast, milky, lacquer…
And at the end, we have the “tertiary flavours”. The wine develops these during its aging process (which can be in barrels or not). You can have a multitude of flavours depending on how the wine was aged. Like, dry fruits or flowers, oak, vanilla, cacao, toast, mushrooms, leather, truffles…
With practice and only with practice, taking time to connect with your wine and yourself through your five senses, you will be able to identify more and more of these flavours! Like everything, it takes time to be good at wine smelling. I’m sure that you will find your way day after day and week after week!!
Here you have two steps as well.
1) Tasting. By feeling the wine in your palate with its aromas, you can use the “retro-olfaction” process.
2) Duration. This is the time it is going to stay on your palate once you swallowed it. The longer you have it, the higher quality the wine is! You can calculate it in “caudalie”. 1 caudalie = 1 second. When it is up to 10 caudalies, we say that the wine is doing “la queue de paon” or “peacock tail” in English.
An important thing to mention is what we call “retro-olfaction”.
What does this strange word mean?
It is very simple. I like to use a simple comparison in order to illustrate it. Can you remember a time when you had a cold? Your nose was so congested that you couldn’t “smell” or “taste” anything. This simple example shows that all the flavours come from your nose and not from your palate. A few people are aware of this in general. On your palate, you have only “sensations”: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and “umami”. The last one can be translated into “a pleasant, savory taste”. It was identified in 1908 by a Japanese chemist. You don’t have always the five sensations in every wine or every food. These are just the five sensations that are identified on our palates. With wine, you usually have three sensations: sweet, bitter and sour.
While tasting your wine, pay attention to the “sensations” on your palate. Are they well-balanced? Is the acidity balanced with the sweetness or the bitterness? That’s the first question you should ask yourself when tasting a wine. It indicates whether the wine is well-made or not.
So to taste a wine like a “pro”, you have to use the “retro-olfaction” process and put all of the flavours on your palate. It is basically like brushing your teeth with wine. I wouldn’t recommend it while having a formal dinner.
Remember, wine is fun and made only for the pleasure of life!
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