Primer for Tasting Wine
By Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie
Speak with Confidence About What You’re Tasting.
Through the years, I have seen many people intimidated, or at a loss to describe a wine they are tasting. It can be a very humbling experience for some, as many apologize for their lack of understanding what the wine is telling them.
Wine is subjective, and whatever it is you are experienc
ing or tasting, it is correct. No one can guide your senses, or tell you otherwise. So if a wine reminds you of wild berries or freshly paved asphalt, it is not wrong. Have confidence in what you experience.
To gain confidence, it would be helpful if you understood how to simply break down the essentials of describing a wine. You can do this easily by taking just four different elements of the wine into consideration: Appearance, Nose (Aromatics), Texture and Flavor.
Appearance says a lot about a wine. It is said that one cannot tell a red from a white wine if you were served the wine blindfolded. I don’t buy into that so much. Red wines have dark berry flavors. White wines generally have white fruit flavors such as apple or pear.
The Nose, the aromatics of the wine, is the window to its world. Typically, everything you smell in the glass will arrive on your palate, eventually. All you need is to have the vocabulary at hand to describe what you sense. That vocabulary, the very thing that all wine tasters yearn for, is waiting for you with the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel. More later.
Texture tells you how and why the wine was built. Is this a wine to age in the cellar, to drink in the hot tub or to have at the most elegant dinner? Is it a fruit bomb, is it tannic, is it soft, or is it meant for a BBQ? Is it acidic, rich, full-flavored; or light and wispy? What kind of foods will it stand up too? Acid and fruit balance plays a large part of this. The way a wine feels texture wise is very important to your enjoyment of the wine.
Flavor is the home run hub of wine description. Let’s go back to the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel. The Davis Wine Aroma Wheel provides you with the necessary vocabulary in a very logical, easy to understand fashion. Using it every time you try a new wine, you will be amazed at how fast you will find yourself speaking with confidence and knowledge about wine. www.winearomawheel.com
Remember what Ernest Hemingway said: “A person with increasing knowledge and sensory education may derive infinite enjoyment from wine.”
If you would like to see examples of wine descriptions using these four characteristics, you can find some here.