Basic Wine Information – What You Need to Know about Tasting

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Understanding wine means that you have a somewhat firm grasp on basic wine information. In order to truly understand your wine, you absolutely must learn how to taste it! In all actuality, learning how to properly taste wine is not some strange process.

It is quite straightforward, and will only deepen your love and appreciation for this fermented grape juice. Once you understand the basics of what goes into tasting wine, you will also have a deeper appreciation for the winemaking process.



Basically, all of your senses are used to taste wine fully. You will look, smell, taste, and feel your way through the wine experience. The first, and most important, aspect of tasting wine is for you to understand that while you are able to smell thousands upon thousands of odors, you can only taste four basic flavors – sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The combination of smell and taste is what “wine tasting” is all about.

Look at the Wine

Use your eyes first. Check out the color of the wine and how clear it is. Do this by pouring the wine into a clean wine glass and tilt it away from you, preferably in front of a light colored or white background. Obviously you will know if it is a red, white, or rose wine.

But is it a dark red?

A deep yellow, or more like straw? Is the wine translucent or opaque? Do you see any sediment at the bottom or floating around? A good rule of thumb is to know that the darker the wine, the older it is, for any variety.

Smell the Wine

What you smell is just as important as what you taste when it comes to wine, and the two are deeply connected. In order to fully appreciate the aroma of your wine, you will want to swirl your glass around to vaporize the wine’s alcohol and release a stronger bouquet of aromas into the air.

Sometimes holding your hand over the glass then releasing will help in this process. This is your first step. Then, stick your nose right into the glass (don’t inhale the wine!) and take a deep breath. What do you pick up? Do you smell berries? Perhaps flowers, vanilla, oak, or even citrus? The complexity of the aroma will usually determine the quality of the wine.

Tasting the Wine

Tasting the wine is not limited to just the first sip and that’s all you get. In fact, that is quite the contrary. There are several phases to tasting the wine. When you take a sip of wine, which you truly want to taste, take a small sip and roll it around in your mouth for about five seconds, then swallow.

This initial sip is almost an attack on your taste buds and will not give you an accurate flavor. You will immediately detect any alcohol, tannins, acids, and sugars. In the best wines, these components will be well-balanced.

Once your taste buds have been attacked, give it another moment and take another sip. Swirl it around in your mouth and let the flavors evolve. This is when you get the actual taste of the wine on your palate. You may start tasting particular fruits and maybe even some spice. Some people even claim to taste oak and flowers in some wines.

The final phase of the wine is known as the finish. After you swallow the wine, the finish is how long the taste and impressions last in your mouth. The longer the finish lasts, the better the wine. Some of the best wines have a finish that lasts several minutes.

As you learn more and more about basic wine information and how to properly experience your wine, you may want to record your thoughts and impressions in a wine journal (find more wine accessories gifts).

This is a great way to remember if you even liked the wine and any aromas and tastes that you experienced. If you have several bottles, you may even be able to go back to your original assessment then compare your impressions to the second round. Many people enjoy removing the wine bottle labels and including them in their journals.



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