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Top 3 wine tasting basics – Perfect guide for wine beginners

Top 3 wine tasting basics – Perfect guide for wine beginners

wine tasting basics,wine,wine aromas,wine tasting - Top 3 wine tasting basics - Perfect guide for wine beginners - 2022 - 1

Are you a beginner in wine-drinking? Or, maybe you already drink wine, but are not sure how to appreciate the beverage in your glass. Or even, you know a little bit about wine tastings, but wish to dig deeper into wine tasting vocabulary – and want to taste wine like an expert (or almost)? Wine tasting rimes with education and perseverance: you learn to taste wine and to appreciate it.

Keep on reading to know the 3 essential steps there are to wine tastings, so you will taste you net wine like a humble wine connoisseur.

How to taste wine? Wine tasting basics

wine tasting basics

Before anything starts, you must sure that all circumstances are reunited for good tasting conditions. For a, optimum wine tasting experience, you must avoid crowded and noisy rooms, potential smells (cooking smells, perfume, …), the shape or your wine glass, and of course the temperature of the wine or the area where you will be tasting it. Once all of these parameters are settled, you can start learning about wine tasting basics.

1st key-step: Sight – Look at your wine

How to look at wine

This might come as something quite obvious to you, but this step is not to be neglected: paying attention to the wine poured in the glass and examine its color through several techniques. Indeed, the color your wine tells a lot about itself. As a result, the first step of wine tasting is to simply look at the wine in your glass.

How to look at wine?

  • Straight angle view. The easiest step to wine-watching: look straight into the glass, from top bottom. After this first acquaintance, look at it again, but by holding your glass to the light. You will perceive other touches of colors an interesting shade variation. Finally, tilt your glass a little, in order to examine the complete color range of your beverage, from light to dark areas.
  • Side view. This position of your glass allows you to see how clear your wine is. The clearer the better – a good quality wine must look completely clear and show no sign of murk.
  • Tilted view. The more you tilt your glass, the thinner the wine, and the more you will know on your wine’s age and weight. For example, a red wine that is past its time becomes almost orange/rusty.
  • Swirl. The last step to deciphering your wine by sight is to give a swirl to your glass. That’s right, the kind of move you see big time wine experts do – except now it’s your turn! But remember, give that swirl by keeping your glass on a flat surface to avoid any wine disaster your shirt might regret. Thanks to this swirl, you will be able to determine your wine’s “legs” – meaning the liquid that runs down on the side of your glass. The more alcohol the wine detains, the larger and thicker these legs are going to be.

2nd key-step: Nose – Smell your wine

Who doesn’t like a good wine-sniff! Before deep diving your nose into your wine glass, give several short sniffs. This is the first acquaintance of your nose with your wine, and you need to give it a little bit of time between each step, so information is processed without being rushed.

Why and how to smell your wine?

  • Deciphering wine anomalies. The step of smelling the wine before tasting it is very important, because it will prevent you from drinking anything contaminated. Indeed, wine can be contaminated by several things, and much better to be aware of it before actually drinking it. The main test, is to make sure the work of the bottle has not been slightly disintegrated – if so, we call is a corked wine.
  • Decoding fruit aromas. There is true education in being able to deciphering aromas in wine. However, the most obvious one that stands out are of course fruit aromas. Each grape variety will express different sides of its aromas. Some wine-makers voluntarily produce fruity wines, and work to make the grape’s aroma potentials at its best.
  • Interpreting background aromas (flower, leaves, herbs, spices…). It’s true, wine can smell like many, many elements. Floral aromas usually stick with white wines like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Cabernet Sauvignon is known to express touches of herbs and vegetation. A good wine, that is, a good wine-maker, is one that finds the best harmony and balance in the complexity of wine aromas.
  • Detecting wine barrel aromas. This “background” smell will feel like toast, smoke, vanilla, expresso or roasted nut kind of scents. These depend on countless factors, like the type of oak of course, its age, the way the barrel was made… Such steps are carefully analyzed and determined by the wine-maker who voluntary pushes one or several parameters to reach excellency.

3rd key-step: Taste your wine

wine tasting basics,wine,wine aromas,wine tasting - Top 3 wine tasting basics - Perfect guide for wine beginners - 2022 - 6
Wine tasting

Now that you have patiently observed and smelled the wine in your hands, it’s time for the best part: tasting it! All the elements that you may have perceived during the previous steps should come together during the tasting of your wine. Be careful not to be too “abrupt” when tasting your wine, rather give little sips at a time, and let it set in your mouth before swallowing it. This is when you will work trying to identify flavors, but also other parameters such as balance, harmony, complexity and completeness.

What to look for when tasting your wine?

  • Balance. A wine that can be defined as balanced, is one that expresses its basic flavors well. In other words, you should taste as much sweet, sour, salty and bitter touches. Actually, it should rather be sweet and sour – thanks to residual sugar and acidity – but not really salty or bitter.
  • Harmony. A harmonious wine is one that offers all variations that are expected in wine, in a way that no component is stronger than the other. A very good wine is described harmonious, and the result of good quality wine making and know-how.
  • Complexity. This criterion is a bit trickier than the ones before, and will tell how well you are progressing in your ability to taste wine. A complex wine is, by definition, a beverage that can potentially surprise you with changing flavors from the beginning of the tasting, to the end. The more you want to understand it, the more is will offer you new flavor variations and subtlety. A good indicator is to notice the length of the wine: how long do you have its flavor into your mouth after swallowing it. The longer, the better and the more complex.
  • Completeness. Icing on the cake: a complete wine is one that is balanced, harmonious and complex at the same time. Do you still follow? These are best-in-class wines, because they offer a lot, and tell the story of their terroir and winegrower.

Now that you have wine tasting basics in your hands, there is no time to lose! Winalist offers you a wide range of wine tasting opportunities around Europe. From Champagne to Bordeaux in France, Chianti to Barolo in Italy, Rioja in Spain or Douro Valley in Portugal, the choice is your. Discover best wine regions in Europe and why you should plan wine trips!

FAQ & Useful resources

Is Champagne an alcohol?

Champagne is a sparkling wine, that has an average of 12.2% of alcohol.

Can you get drunk on champagne?

Like any beverage that has alcohol, you can of course get drunk on Champagne. Actually, you may be drunk very quickly – this depends on how fast you drink your Champagne flute.

What is the best wine for someone who doesn’t like wine?

If you don’t like wine much, you might feel sorry not to have the opportunity to drink any during social events. But maybe, you haven’t tasted a wine that you like yet! You may be interested in:
_ Alcohol-removed sparkling wines
_ Italian Prosecco (low in alcohol and very fruity)
_ Asti Spumante: a very sweet sparkling wine
_ Rosé wines
_ Fruity reds such as Barchetto d’Acqui and Lambrusco.

See Also
Portuguese wines

How do I start drinking wine?

The best way to start drinking wine is to try sweet and low alcohol wines.

What is difference between wine and champagne?

Champagne is a sparkling wine, that can exclusively be produced in the French region of Champagne, near Paris. Wine gathers all kinds of alcoholic beverages made out of fermented grape juice, produced all over the world.

What is the best red wine for a beginner?

If you are a beginner in red wines, here are the best ones to start with:
Pinot Noir
Zinfandel
Cabernet Sauvignon

How can I teach myself wine?

Wine tasting can be a true art, but you can already know enough just with a couple of key-steps! You have to pay attention to the wine’s color (robe), smell (nose) and taste when in the palate.

What are the 5 basic wine characteristics?

The 5 basic wine characteristics that you have to pay attention to, are:
The sweetness
The acidity
Tannin levels
Fruity flavor
Light or full-bodied

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