If you are new to the magnificent world of wine, its boundless variety of flavours and rituals can seem somewhat overwhelming but once begun, the exploration of this wonderful world is likely to become the most exciting journey of your life. Like all beginners you could probably do with a bit of guidance on its initial stages of buying, serving and tasting wine. The following advice will identify the gaps in your knowledge, develop important skills and help you take your first steps in to this ancient world.
The first association that comes to your mind on reading this subtitle is probably that of a fun Friday afternoon with a group of your closest friends. While certainly offering a degree of pleasure and fun, wine tasting also requires quite a bit of preparation and effort if you want to do it right and make the most of it. The more work you put in, the more rewarding your outcome will be.
What wine needs is a good sniff. It’s through your nose that wine will be able to pass on the most important information about its aromas, both in their complexity and isolating unique flavours. Without a good sniff even the finest wine loses most of its taste, and it’s the ability to sniff out properly that distinguishes a true wine professional.
The atmosphere plays an important role in your overall perception of wine. Even top experts will not be able to fully appreciate the intricate scents if they are surrounded by noise and distractions. Whenever possible, you should aim to have a little alone time with your wine during the first couple of minutes after meeting it. This will allow you to concentrate completely on the signals that wine is sending to your nose and decode them successfully. Don’t rush, the world can wait.
It would also be easier for you during the initial stages of training if you could come up with a clearcut system of wine evaluation. Try going through a mental checklist every time you find a glass of wine in your hands: think of its appearance, scents, flavours. With time it will become a useful habit that will hardly require any effort at all, but at first you need a pattern to keep you consistent in your wine assessment.
If already at this point the whole procedure seems like too much work and probably not worth it to you, then maybe you should take a different approach and simply enjoy your wine rather than try to analyse it. Defining wine by whether you like it or not after a couple of gulps can obviously never be just as satisfying as being able to establish its age and origin, identify the main flavour and scent components. However, simply figuring out what you like can be more appropriate for certain social situations and is considered an inseparable part of wine tasting anyway.
If you are still reading this article chances are that you sincerely consider wine to be wonderful in all respects. And while we are by no means going to argue with that, it is a known fact that wine has quite a number of “enemies”, including poor winemaking, bad corks, damaging storage and the inexperienced decanter. The sniffing skill we mentioned earlier will help you learn to quickly discover flaws in wines, which can come particularly handy when you need to assess a bottle of wine that you are offered by a waiter at a restaurant. As we can clearly see now, learning to give wine a good sniff goes a long way.
There is not a single country in the world that wouldn’t produce wine, but as you can imagine wines differ significantly depending on their region of origin. Traditionally wine experts speak about “Old World” and “New World”. The “Old World” block includes countries that have been producing wine quite literally for ages, such as France or Italy. They tend to determine their wines by the type of soil and the influence of climate that grapes were grown in. The “New World” countries, including Australia and Chile, normally prefer to identify their wines simply by the type of the grapes, and it’s this information that you are likely to find on their labels.
Reading Wine Labels
The above mentioned labels can be of great help in the challenging task of wine evaluation, especially when buying wine from a shop, where giving your chosen wine the good sniff it deserves is hardly ever an option. But reading wine labels is not as easy as it might seem at first, and if you don’t know how to do it properly labels can confuse you rather than assist in your decision making.
Quite predictably, components of wine labels differ from region to region, but there are a number of core ones that will be easily identifiable for you as long as you are aware of them. These core components include: varietal, region, producer, alcohol percentage, and vintage. Additional information may feature vineyard, estate, reserve, tasting notes, history, and quality level. Keeping in mind these basic components of wine labels, you should be able to decipher even some of the more complicated descriptions.
Buying wine has never been easier and more difficult at the same time. No matter how demanding an expert you are, chances are that you will be able to find your favourite wine at the nearest supermarket or even order it online. It’s the determining what your favourites are part that is a challenge at this age when the limitations of our choices are next to none. Keep this in mind when going out or dining at a restaurant, study your own preferences, and then it will become much easier to choose a wine that you already like or are likely to like based on your previous experience.
We have explored all possible aspects of the theory of wine art, but none of them would make much sense without practice. And what is practice when learning about wine? That’s right, drinking it. To make sure you truly enjoy this experience and make the most of it, we would like to provide you with a final set of wine expert rules.
It is vitally important not to underestimate the importance of what you serve your wine in. Special wine glasses are designed in such as a way as to bring out the best characteristics of wine and direct its main flavour to the correct area of your nose and mouth. Different shapes of glasses can be more or less appropriate for different types of wine, so you need to make sure that your home cutlery collection offers something to choose from.
Serving temperature is of no less importance. While all wines are stored in the same conditions, it’s common knowledge that white wine should be served chilled and red wine tastes best when served slightly warmer. Overdoing either would never do wine any good though. Ideally you should aim to find the balance between the fridge and storage temperatures for white wine and between the storage and room temperatures for red. The easiest way to achieve this is to put white wine into the fridge and take your red wine out of storage half an hour before serving. This time will be enough for both of them to reach the optimal serving temperature.
Take the time to learn a little about the wine you are serving, its region of origin are your quickest insight into the most suitable food for pairing. Is it a particularly young wine that will benefit from being allowed to breath or an older wine that has already mellowed with a sediment deposit in the bottle.
Though this is unlikely to happen to a wine enthusiast like yourself, if you ever have any wine left in an opened bottle, you should never neglect the guidelines for wine preservation. How long your wine can survive will be determined by how much air is left in the bottle, which is why the key thing to remember here is to suck out the excess air with the help of a vacuum pump.
Now that you know all there is to know, enjoy your wine and make every gulp count!