So, you love wine like us, want to go on a wine tasting experience, but feel intimidated by the thought of going on a vineyard tour with the winemaker and being confronted by all that etiquette and expectation when it comes to eventually tasting wine?
Good news folks, we’ve put together our guide of top tips to remember during your next wine tasting to blow away all the pomp and bluster and to rewrite the rules. You don’t need to know a thing about all those bloated terms like terroir, tannins, acids, or vintages because here are 5 great wine tasting tips so you can enjoy your tasting experience to its fullest.
1. Wine exists to make us happy !
Let’s not overcomplicate things, why else would wine exist unless to put a smile on your face? Well originally, before the advent of safe clean drinking water, it served an essential purpose; wine was the better bet if you didn’t fancy a bout with cholera. But since that little problem was gratefully nipped in the butt a good while back, our taste for wine has persisted long after. And the reason for that is as simple as life itself; we like the tastes and smells, we like the way it makes us feel, we like the variety, we like the way it makes food taste better. It inspires great works of art, stories, poetry, films, and love. And for many of us we love the beauty in the places where its grown and appreciate the skill it requires to produce.
All these reasons are why for us, this is our #1 tip to remember during a wine tasting, it’s fundamentally what drives us during our wine experiences. So, next time you taste a wine, take note, did it make you smile?
2. Taste is a spectrum
How many times have we tried something that we were led to believe would be life changing, only to feel confused when it’s failed to live up to the hype and left our pallets disappointed?
Fret not, there’s an inescapable reason for this, we all experience life in our own ‘individual’ worlds of sensory perception. For each of us, our senses of taste and smell can be plotted on a spectrum with ‘hypersensitive’ at one end to ‘hyper tolerant’ on the other. This is why some of us can’t get enough ketchup (or in our case, mustard!) on just about everything whilst others happily chow on raw bitter veggies without complaint.
It’s not something to worry about but to celebrate, it’s what makes our experience unique, but we also need to keep it in mind. If a wine that someone is waxing lyrical over isn’t ticking box number one and making you happy then leave it, it’s not for you, there’s plenty more out there that’ll make your taste buds dance.
The wine’s been poured, and you’re staring at it, somewhere between indecision over what to do next and the desire to grab at it and wolf it down with glee.
If you take one tasting tip away this is the one to keep in your pocket always. Always start with a swirl. Swirling the wine in the glass allows oxygen to interact with the wine faster than if allowed to sit, lifting some of the many tiny organic and interesting compounds from the wine and into the air reacting as they go, creating and filling the glass above with the wine’s fragrance and an introduction to its personality.
Don’t worry about not having the technique down, you will no doubt have seen experts gently pinching the glass at the base, swirling the wine with total control and complete nonchalance over the crisp white shirt or dress just daring a spill beyond the glass.
Just place the glass on a flat surface, the table or bar, and swirl it in neat circles on that, you’ll feel like a pro and look the part too… Which leads us onto….
Now, tilt the glass, and plunge your nose all the way into the rim and inhale deeply before tasting. You may not be able to pick out individual smells and things like cut grass, elderflower, smoke, or essence of oak (that often comes with practice), but the important thing to keep in mind here is that your sense of smell plays a huge part in your sense of taste.
If you want to see for yourself just how much more important your sense of smell is over taste, you can experiment right now. Find yourself something sweet or fruity, like a jelly baby, now pinch your nose and pop it in your mouth and chew. Keep your nose pinched and think about what you can taste. Mostly sweet right?
Now release your nose…boom! Raspberry, lemon, lime, apple, whatever the flavour is, it comes flooding in now the nose can play too. The nose is mighty, and we bet you won’t forget this one after trying it out.
5. Double take – Or as Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston would say; “It Takes 2, Baby”
It’s at last time to taste if you haven’t already, take a sip, but try to keep some back for this bit. If you failed and sent it all down it one, then don’t woIt’s last time to taste (if you’ve been restrained and haven’t done so already), take a sip, but try to keep some back for this bit. If you failed and sent it all down it one, then don’t worry, politely ask for a little top up.
Now, don’t swallow straight away, swish it around your mouth a little, let it coat your tongue and cheeks to prepare your pallet, and then swallow…or spit it out, it’s totally your choice and completely acceptable, just maybe ask for a spittoon first rather than the floor.
Try not to think too much on this first sip, this was setting your mouth up for the real deal. Now take a second sip. As it dances around your mouth and over your tongue, you’ll probably notice how the flavours are elevated and more noticeable than before. And this is the power of the double take. Sometimes our pallets need a little reset and a cleanse. The first sip might take away any of the residual flavours of whatever it was you had before, tea, coffee, breakfast, or wine so that our second sip is unhindered and allowed to live a little without prejudice.
Now swallow…or spit, again, it’s still fine, after all you can’t be expected to like everything so it’s probably worth noting that if it’s really not your deal then tipping the remainder in the spittoon is completely acceptable behaviour too. You won’t be insulting anyone.
You’re now ready! Why not head out on a Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting with Vine + Country
We’ve got you sorted my friend. Armed with these 5 great tips and ‘winey’ reality checks you will march in with pride to next vineyard tour and wine tasting, head held high and confidently rue the day.
Now that we’ve hopefully fired your inspiration, why not test out our flawless wine tasting system and jump on board with us to come swirl, sniff, taste and love the serenity of an English vineyard…
Much Love, Jamie & Steph