First, wine tasting is not easy. If anyone tells you that, they are liars.
I don’t mean having a sip and tasting what is in your mouth. I mean smelling your wine, having a sip and being able to tell me what fruits, flowers, herbs and hints of whatever is in the wine.
To even have a decent shot at picking out the flavours and scents you need to be able to concentrate and not be around any smells like perfume, cooking smells, or pet smells. Even a glass that is the wrong shape or size can alter what you are able to smell.
The temperature, age of the wine, what you were eating before you sampled the wine, all of these things play a factor into what you taste.
I had ordered a glass of wine at a restaurant that I know I love, but I was eating a different kind of food with it, and it tastes totally different and kind of gross. It’s amazing the difference that makes.
Real experts at this can look at the shade and transparency of the wine can tell you what type of wine it is. I could probably tell you the difference between a pinot noir and a cab sav, but that’s about where it stops. I know Syrahs or red Zinfandels are usually a dark purple/black colour and Pinot Noirs or Sangioveses are a lighter, more browny/red colour.
Fruits are usually the most prominent smell and taste you can pick out. Herbs, spices and flowers are sometimes apparent.
Then there are the smells from the barrels. You could have oak, vanilla, smoke, chocolate, espresso, or even things like nuts.
Overwhelmed yet? Each part of your tongue tastes different things, so when you are ready to taste you have to swirl the wine around in your mouth to catch all the flavours.
To me, that seems like using mouthwash and also is going to make me have red wine mouth. I don’t want to. Especially if the wine has a lot of tannins in it, it will give your whole mouth that bitter dry feeling.
I invented a game to test out your skills in a way that, hopefully, isn’t infuriating.
Go to your favourite restaurant with a friend, hopefully on half price wine night, ask your server for the wine menu and to surprise you with a glass of wine. Each of you try and pick out the flavours, you will have the wine menu in front of you so it’s not super overwhelming and a complete shot in the dark. The person who guesses correctly doesn’t’ have to pay for the wine!
After you guess, get the server to bring over the bottle of wine so you can look at what it’s supposed to taste like and try to find those flavours in your wine.
You actually will be learning something and it won’t break the bank. It will show you what to look for in a particular type of wine, hopefully help you with picking out flavours, and you might find some new wines you love or hate!
Wine tasting is learned. It’s not easy, and it’s not something you are going to learn overnight. Make it fun.
I’m going to try this with Scott and see how it goes. Wish me luck!