Wine tasting is a wonderful way to treat the palate. Whether you are organising a night out to surprise a date, or planning an intimate night in with friends, here are some tips on how to best plan for the perfect, unique tasting!
Perhaps you’d like to focus on a theme? Choose based on country (‘South African wines’) or grape variety (‘rose grapes’). Alternatively, you could choose a type of wine, and taste how it is made in different countries (‘Chardonnay from around the world’). You could also select wines suitable for that time of the year (red wine for winter, white and rosé for summer).
Progression of wines
Depending on your theme, you should always serve lighter or even sparkling wine at the beginning of your tasting. You can then serve whites, followed by the reds. Leave fortified wines last.
The correct temperature of each wine certainly makes the difference. Red wine is best served at room temperature and should be opened a couple of hours in advance. White and rosé should be served cold (8-10°C). Champagne and sparkling wine need to be slightly more chilled (6-8°C).
Glasses are also very important as quality glasses will enhance the taste of wine. The best glasses for wine tasting are tulip-shaped as they allow the wine to be swirled around and release the flavour. Champagne and sparkling wines should be served in flutes, which keep them fizzy for longer. You can also use decanters to serve red wines as these help them breathe. Do not forget pitchers of water to refresh your mouth from time to time.
The Four Stages of Tasting
When your glasses are filled in, there are four key stages to the perfect wine tasting.
- Look at the wine and check to see if it is clear and bright. Colour intensity will tell you how strong the wine is.
- Swirl the wine in the glass and sniff. The smell will tell you about the character of the wine. Think about what scents you’re picking up, and keep in mind that there are no wrong answers!
- Next, take a sip, hold the wine in your mouth for a moment, then swallow. This will tell you about the texture, whether it is smooth or sharp, fruity or acidic. A little trick to enhance your perception of the taste: suck air over your tongue while the wine is still in your mouth. This technique helps to release the aromas and will make you look like a real expert.
- Finally, concentrate on the aftertaste to explore the wine in all its nuances. Take time to enjoy it fully before you move on to the next one.