Top 4 Wine-tasting Tips For Beginners
Many people are curious about wine-tasting, but some let fear of inexperience prevent them from actually trying it. There’s really nothing to worry about, though. Here are four top tips to make your first time less frightening!
1. How to smell
Most people know that you’re supposed to smell the wine before drinking it, but very few actually know what they’re smelling for. The best way to understand this is to ask a member of staff. Their job is to help you get the most out of your wine-tasting experience, so don’t be afraid!
The best way to smell a wine is to rotate the glass several times before lowering your nose to it. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to smell: don’t be afraid to say what you think!
To get the most out of a wine’s scent, refrain from wearing strong perfumes or smoking before or during the event. Wine has a delicate smell, so it doesn’t take much to overpower it.
If you’re worried about the lingo, just ask whoever’s hosting the event. The smell of a wine is called it’s “nose”, though, so remember that, if nothing else!
2. How to taste
In films, you often see wine-tasters making a slurping or gargling noise as they taste wine. This is acceptable, but not necessary. It’s true that you’ll be able to taste the wine better if you take it into your mouth with a bit of air. Take care, though: if you plan on swallowing the wine, you’re likely to get hiccups! Still, it’s better to make a noise tasting the wine than not taste it properly at all.
You’ll see your fellow wine-tasters holding their glass up to their light, but what are they looking for? It’s depth of colour, usually. For example, a red wine can be “maroon”, “garnet”, “purple”, “brick” or even a simple “red”.
If you’re unsure about what to say, you can always ask the opinion of your neighbour. People are usually happy to share their thoughts when it comes to wine, and many attendees will be at the event to socialise, so there’s no need to be shy. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer — every aspect of wine-tasting is subjective, so nobody will mock you for your opinion.
4. To spit or not to spit?
This is possibly the biggest cause of stress for beginner wine-tasters. Under normal circumstances, it’s impolite to spit, so the idea that this is acceptable (if not encouraged) at a wine-tasting event can seem strange to a lot of people.
But if you think about it, spitting makes sense. If you swallow every sample you taste, your judgement will be clouded after the first few tasters, and you won’t be able to tell which you prefer. That’s why most experienced wine-tasters spit. There’s a spittoon (bucket to spit in) at most wine-tasting events, so don’t worry about being impolite — that’s what it’s there for!
Some people insist on swallowing, though, and that’s also okay. If this is what you intend to do, just remember to have a large meal before the event.
- photo by Oncle Tom License: Creative Commons image source
By Sam Wright
Sam Wright is a journalist and copywriter working with Pieroth, the world leader in direct wine sales.