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Wine Guide, Wine Pronounciation guide

Tasting Wine


Much snobbery exists in wine tasting and fruity voices can be heard in restaurants, bars and meetings exclaiming the qualities of wine in fruity terms. Notwithstanding the "Daahling it's honeyed heaven" affectations, wine tasting is a serious business. For example, experiments have taken place to analyze and list 12 major categories of wine smells. The same techniques have been used to identify distinct flavours in wine. There is plenty of scientific information about wine tasting but we intend only to give an outline of some of the most important aspects that can be absorbed easily by the appreciative wine drinker.

Keeping it simple: Very important! Open the wine carefully. Some of the modern corkscrews are really very efficient and they are difficult to use badly. Have a look at our wine gifts section for some ideas.

The glass: Choose your glass carefully. A brandy type glass with a large bowl that tapers towards the rim is ideal because it allows a vigorous swirl of the wine and this releases the aromas which are then funnelled towards the nose. Limit the quantity of wine in the glass to about one-third capacity.

Stage one: Visual examination. Look carefully at the wine against a white background Ė normally a tablecloth. White wines have a huge range of shades that can indicate the age of the wine, the type of grape and country of origin. Reds are even more distinctive in the range of subtle colour differences. A professional wine taster can tell the type of grape used in producing a red wine simply by looking at it.

Stage two: Swirl and smell. The increased air contact with the wine releases the natural aromas. Place your nose as near to the mouth of the glass as is socially acceptable and take a big sniff. The majority of good wines have an interesting diversity of pleasant smells that can be placed into categories the main ones being: fruity, nutty, floral, woody, earthy, spicy and so on. Wine tasting aficionados can wax lyrical for ages about the fruity smells of wine and some claim to be able to identify specific smells from almost all types of fruit. For the average wine lover, if you can identify a couple of aromas then you will probably be happy.

Stage three: Taste. the good bit! Take a generous sip and roll it round your mouth. By "slurping" you are aerating the wine and releasing more aromas. You will soon become aware of the structure of the wine. Your palate will confirm the impressions left by sniffing the wine. Taste is, strangely, less important than smell in determining details about wine. The tongue can detect only water soluble flavours such as sweetness, bitterness, acidity and salt, so, in reality, you will learn more about the wine from stages one and two. I would, however, not recommend that you simply stop at stage 2 !! Terms popularly used to describe the wine at this stage of the tasting are "body" (full or light) "texture" (rough or smooth) and "balance". "Balance" takes account of the combination of elements such as fruitiness, acidity, sweetness and alcohol strength.

Is there a stage four? Only if you are a really serious wine taster operating in a public environment. Do you need to spit? If you are about to taste a wide range of wines in an evening then it may be wise to clean your mouth out after each individual tasting. If you keep swallowing glasses of wine your judgement may become impaired almost certainly and your mumbled assessments will gain little respect, but perhaps cause amusement. Enjoy your wine tasting and donít waste the products but keep a spittoon handy the wine may be awful!

Further information: There are many opportunities to learn about wine tasting and, if you are serious about the "hobby" you should make an effort to attend an evening course for a starter. You will meet many people with genuine interest in wine and you will learn much. Courses are organized by different bodies from local amateur wine clubs to professional vintners. There is something for everybody. From absolute beginner to wine buff, there will be a course somewhere to suit. Specialist tastings are available for Spanish, New World etc. wines. One day workshops are the most popular venues for serious wine tasters.

Corporate events can offer a free and informative way to enjoy yourself and learn something about the mysteries of wine. As your interest in wine expands you may even decide to make some at home. Yes! I mean it seriously. Home wine making can be a very rewarding and satisfying leisure activity. There are many local wine clubs and ample opportunities to socialize. It may surprise you to find how easy it is to produce a good fruit or flower wine.

For further information visit You may embark on an embracing new hobby. Just watch out for a sore head in the morning!




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