A Very, Very Short Introduction
Courtesy of the sommeliers at Tuscan vineyards Tenuta Torciano and Castello Di Verranzzano.
Shane and I both have an appreciation for wine, and the more we travel, the more our palate develops. We’ve participated in many wine tastings that not only give us an excuse to drink amazing wine, but also teaches us more about the culture of wine. Before following these steps to proper wine tasting that we learned while in Tuscany, there are a few rules to follow in regards to serving temperatures, proper place settings and tasting etiquette.
Temperatures: Serving wine at the right temperature is a crucial part of wine tasting. According to Wine Spectator magazine, “When it comes to serving temperature, a wine should be just right. Too hot and the wine’s alcohol will be emphasized, leaving it flat and flabby. Too cold and the aromas and flavors will be muted and, for reds, the tannins may seem harsh and astringent.” If wine is left at room temperature, the sommelier recommend chilling both red and white wine for 30 minutes. (Learn more about the specifics of proper serving temperatures.)
Tasting etiquette: If you’re right-handed, the wine glass sits on your left, and vice versa for lefty’s. Always pick up the glass at the stem with your left hand, and then transfer it to your right hand, thumb and index finger only on top of the foot, or base, of the glass. Never hold the bowl, or cup, of the glass. The heat emitted from your hand will change the temperature of the wine, thus changing the taste and smell.
Now time for the tasting!
Step 1: Inspect the color.
Hold the glass up to a white background for a better view of the color. According to Delish, “As white wines age, they gain color. Red wines, on the other hand, lose color as they age. White wines can range from a pale yellow-green to a brownish hue. Reds begin at purple and scale all the way to brown.”
Step 2: Smell the wine.
Place your nose fully into the glass to get a full smell of the wine. “A wine’s real charm can be found in its scent. Here you can discern a wine’s primary and secondary aromas. Smelling offers a preview of what you might taste, not just then, but also if you let the wine sit for a while and open up,” states MSNBC.com.
Step 3: Swirl.
Allowing the wine to breathe allows the flavors and aromas to open. This is also a technique to view the “legs” of the wine, the wine left on the sides of the glass. According to the sommelier, the legs of the wine are not an indication of the quality of the wine, but are an sign of the alcohol content. The slower the legs and the closer they are apart, the higher the alcohol content.
Step 4: Taste.
Make sure the wine touches all taste buds by swishing the wine in your mouth for a few seconds. After experiencing the full taste, you can either opt to discard the wine in a dump bucket, or just drink it. You can probably guess the preferred option.
Because wine changes smell and taste as it opens up, repeat steps 2-4 for an entirely different experience. Happy tasting!