Just recently have I truly started to appreciate and moreover understand what actually goes in to the process of picking and tasting wines. Ever since I started observing the wine tastings here in Buenos Aires I’ve become fascinated with the depth, the aroma, and flavor a wine can have. From an outsiders perspective it would seem utterly difficult to distinguish such intimate details of a liquid from the smell and the taste but it is, in fact, not impossible and actually quite straightforward. You just need to know what you’re looking for. Broken down into three phases you’re going to want to examine the look, smell, and then finally taste.
Starting with the appearance you’re going to want to check both the color as well as the clarity. After pouring the wine into a proper glass look at it closely. Tilt the glass away from you. At this point you’re looking for the wines color from the rim’s edges to the middle of the glass. One of the hardest things for non-experienced wine drinkers is deviating from the obvious white, red, or blush color. Make your elementary school art teacher proud and dig a little deeper; the white wine can be golden, amber, pale yellow, or even light green. If the wine is red think brick colored, purple, maroon, or ruby. Once you have decided on a color it’s time to decide on the wine’s opacity. There are many possibilities for this as well such as: translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant, watery or dark, and cloudy or clear. This is also the point where you’d want to check to see if there was any sediment in the wine such as bits of cork or stuff along those lines.
Now to the smell, a most critical component in our analysis of wine due to the fact that you can smell thousands of scents but you can only taste salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Swirl your glass around for a good 10 seconds and then smell to get a first impression of what’s there. Next stick you nose into the glass and inhale deeply looking for the essence of the wine. What you smell could be anything from berry or citrus, to oak or flowers. Swirl the wine one more time and then smell it once more.
Finally on to what most people would consider the best part, tasting. Take a small sip and let the wine roll around your mouth. At first see what the initial impression is on your palate, which deals with tannin levels, acidity, residual sugar, and alcohol content. The hope is that these four factors are well balanced. Components to consider when tasting the wine are whether it is light or heavy, sweet or dry, and crisp or creamy. For red wines you might taste fruit like berry, prune, fig, or plum. You might also taste some spicier notes from pepper, cinnamon, or clove. White wines tend to have tastes from apple, tropical or citrus fruits, and pear. They can also be more floral or earthy.