|So you have the wine. Now what?
It’s not a glass of beer or alcopop bottle, so start by holding the
wine glass by the stem - so you can get a good look at
the wine in your glass.
Ideally you’d be able to tip the wine away from you against a white
background, but as I’m guessing the majority of you will
be in the local bar it’s not going to happen! So instead hold it up
to eye level and take a good look at it.
|You should be able to work out fairly easily
if you’re dealing with a white, rose or red from the colour of the
wine! White wines will vary from almost clear, to lemon or even gold in
colour (the older it generally is). A rose wine will be pinky or orange,
while a red wine can vary from being pale red to a deep brown red or purple.
|As the majority (around 75%) of what we taste is actually
due to our sense of smell, once you’ve looked at it, have a sniff!
To get a good whiff of the wine, swirl the wine in the
glass, (gently so you don’t cover yourself or anyone else in it!).
Swirling releases molecules in the wine, allowing you to
smell the wines aroma (also called the bouquet or nose
of the wine). The technical reason being that it increases the surface area
of the wine exposed to air…but enough of the technicalities!
|Take a quick sniff of the wine and have a
think about what comes to mind. Roses, spices, wood, nuts,
chocolate, gooseberrys, smelly feet…etc. As you get more practice,
you’ll start to notice characteristic smells from different wines.
The flavour profile below is a great guide to some characteristics of different
grapes that you maybe able to spot when both smelling and tasting wine.
Don’t worry, it gets easier with practice – we promise!
As an additional tip, younger wines tend to smell more
of fruit, while older wines are likely
to smell more spicy or savoury.
|Finally for the best bit – taste it!
Start by taking a medium mouthful (rather than a huge gulp) of wine and
give it a quick swirl around your mouth to give all your
tastebuds a good chance to try it too. Have a think about:
taste - what comes to mind from your first impressions. Is it a
light or heavy wine. Is dry or sweet, smooth or harsh?
– How long did the taste linger? What was the overall flavour like?
Acidity: Sensed on
the sides of your tongue . This is usually much higher in white wines than
red wines and can taste quite citrus. A good quality wine gets the balance
between sweetness and acidity right.
Sensed at the back of the throat. The more sugar there is in the grapes
the higher the potential alcohol. Wines from warmer countries tend to produce
sweeter grapes and therefore more alcoholic wines, so watch out for that!
Balance: This is also a sign of quality and describes
when the wine’s various component parts (e.g. acidity, tannins) have
successfully blended together. A wine is said to be mature when it’s
achieved optimal balance.
Body: This is how the
wine feels on your palate, in other words its weight or fullness.
Length: This is basically how long after you have swallowed
the wine you can still taste it. As a rule, the longer the length of the
wine, the better the quality.
at the tip of your tongue. A wine that tastes sweet is a result of the sugar
in the ripe grapes that’s left after they’ve fermented.
Tannin: Tastebuds at the back of the tongue. This
comes from the grapes pips and skins and is mostly found in red wines. It
tastes like a really strong cup of tea and can have a drying effect on the
|Lemon, Apple, butter, melon, pineapple
Honey, apple, almond
Lychees, spices, floral, banana
Orange, citrus peel, floral
Spice, tropical fruits
Citrus fruits, limes, honey
Cut grass, gooseberries, tropical fruits
Orange, honey, lime, pineapple
Apricots, peaches, nutmeg, pine nuts
|Raspberry, spice, blackcurrant
Chocolate, coffee, cigars, blackcurrant, pepper
Spice, summer fruits
Coffee, plums, blackcurrant, cherry, pepper
Chocolate, liquorice, prunes, cherries
Summer fruits, fruitcake, smoke
Raspberry, cherry, redcurrants, chocolate
Earthy, cherry, herbs, tobacco
Blackberry, pepper, smoke, raspberries, spice
Strawberry, vanilla, soft spice
Red and black fruits, mint, spices, cherry