How to Enjoy a Wine Tasting Session

Wine TastingIf you are attending your first wine tasting session, you will want to make the most of this experience.  There is more to wine tasting than just having a sip of as many bottles as possible, and here are some tips for approaching this occasion like a pro.

Know what you want to taste.

You will definitely not be able to taste all the bottles offered for the public during a wine tasting session, so it is best that you decide beforehand which bottles you want to taste and stick to those.

Check out the activity’s website and look for the type of wine you want to get to know better. Then, take a look at the wine list offered for the event and mark the ones that have good reviews or rating. From this, make the list of wines you want to taste, taking note of what the reviews say. Once your list is complete, you are ready to optimize your wine tasting adventure.

Pace your tasting carefully.

In Go Epicurista’s Tips to Enjoy Wine Tasting Like a Pro, Christina Thomas says, “I don’t follow this as a hard rule, however, it does make for a better tasting experience if you start with lighter wines, then move to heavier reds and end with dessert wines. Sparkling wines are my favorite to start and end the evening. Nothing sets the tone of the night like bubbly, plus it’s a great palate cleanser. You may also choose to only drink certain varietals first, for example all chardonnays or all pinot noirs, just keep an eye on the lines as you may not be able to make it back to a certain wine producer’s table.

This recommendation is not carved in stone, but it is a good way to make sure your palate remains able to discern the subtle differences between one bottle and the next. Avoid seesawing through the samples and take a leisurely trip through the items you want to really experience.

Set your limits.

The purpose of wine tasting is for you to get to know wines well, but there is a limit to the amount of alcohol and the number of different wines you can take. Beyond this limit, you may feel a happy buzz, but you won’t be doing much to sharpening your palate.

In the same article, Christina Thomas says, “A traditional glass of wine is 5-6 ounces and pours at wine tasting events are usually 1 ounce. Do the math. If you’re drinking the full pour, plan on tasting no more than 10 to 15 wines. This is not only responsible but also scientific. Your taste buds may not be able to process much more than that. Pick and choose wisely. Any wine pro will tell you, it is recommended to use the spit bucket and spit out most of the wines you taste. I know this may be difficult when you’ve paid for a high-priced ticket, however it will allow you to taste more wines and then go back and get a larger pour of the wines you really like. You want to remember the event fondly, don’t you? Oh, a note of warning on the spit bucket: don’t spit into a full bucket or you will likely get splashed. Not fun!”

Treat each glass with respect.  

In Wine Mag’s  How to Taste Wine, Paul Gregutt suggests creating as neutral an environment as possible before tasting a glass. Walk away from strong odors so you can fully nuance the aromas in the glass. Examine the glass from all angles to see the full color range of the wine you in your glass.

Before taking a sip, Gregutt recommends giving the wine a swirl and a sniff. “… You can swirl it most easily by keeping it firmly on a flat surface; open air “freestyle” swirling is not recommended for beginners.

“Notice if the wine forms “legs” or “tears” that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have good legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not…”

You can then give it a few quick sniffs to catch the faint aromas that the wine possesses. Compare these with the scent of flowers, herbs, fruits, and spices. Then, take a sip and judge for yourself whether the wine is sweet, dry, or acidic. Let the wine touch all the areas of your tongue, savor it and then spit it out. Spitting out the wine allows you to go through your tasting without getting tipsy or accumulating so much alcohol your judgment is clouded.

In between glasses, take a few bites of the food offered during the event. This will cleanse your palate and allow you to savor each glass the way you should. Finally, make notes about those you enjoyed most and begin creating a list of the wines that you truly love.

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