Wine Tasting 101 - Down Under

One established technique that can help you acquire good wine tasting skills is to use a notepad to jot down whatever impressions you gather when tasting some wine that you find interesting. You can develop upon this by holding discussions with other wine loving friends and acquaintances to share your impressions, which will give you an insight into what other people think about it, and let you know whether you are on the right track. But this can be challenging as expressing wine opinions and advice to a crowd of people who are wine savvy may result in facing criticism and even abuse.

Wine tasting is basically savoring the wine, using your visual and olfactory faculties and your taste buds above all, to determine its levels of quality. Your senses are the real judges. So how do you go about it? You take the glass of wine and hold it up to the light watching its color to judge the vintage and taste. Although visual appearance is no sure shot indicator of taste, it is generally expected that bright transparent wines will taste delightful, whereas those that are cloudy and dull in color will have a less appealing taste. Therefore, appearance is an indicator of what the mouth and nose can expect.

As for color and flavor, white wines young in age have a pale greenish to clear white countenance and dryness in taste while maturity imparts a deep golden brownish tinge and nectar like taste. Red wines of recent vintage will display an opaque purplish hue and a rather brash taste, while the bright pink/rose colors are mellow and good tasting.

Tasting is a complex issue. On the basis of scientific study we are told that human taste buds are able to discern only four basic flavors that are sour, sweet, bitter and salty. In fact taste is a complex sensory experience that combines the signals given through taste buds along with the senses of touch and smell. While wine tasting, how it feels in the mouth, whether watery thin or oily and viscous, conveys lightness or weight and forms an essential part of the wine tasting experience.

Good wine also smells good! Take a deep whiff and relax while making out how it smells. Does it smell like fruit, flowers, tar or dirty socks? Take a sip and enjoy the feeling letting your taste buds relish the luxurious flavor as you swirl the wine around your mouth sensing its taste texture and weight. Then jot down your feelings. Remember, it may not be easy. Why? One taster closing his eyes tried to explain the taste and found it to be close to apples and grapes, figs and coconuts, wood chips and old shoes!

If wine reeks of vinegar it is an indication that it is spoilt. However, a sort of sharp, crisp acidity is desirable to make the wine an amiable companion to a food dish like fish. Wines with too little acid may be mellow but do not stand up well with food.

Wine tasting may involve differentiating between various aromas. Here are a few sample aromas! Fruity, nutty, woody, vegetative, caramelized, earthy, chemical, pungent, floral, and spicy. Remember that each has further sub-categories.

So take your time and keep practicing. You may turn out to be more successful than many others. Happy wine tasting!

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About The Author, Ian Love
Ian Love is the owner of Perth Restaurant group West Valley and also owns Australian Wine retailer - Liquor Merchants and runs a great Australian wine club.