For some of the best wine shops London is the place to go. There you will find shops that are quite happy for you to try a glass of wine before you purchase it. Of course you need to be in the market for more than just a single bottle, really you need to be purchasing at least number of wine hampers or cases. Here we will look at how you should go about tasting wine so that you can properly evaluate its quality.
Although it is called tasting, it really involves a number of senses. These are sight, smell and taste. Professional wine tasters are called sommeliers and they use a specific set of criteria to assess a wine’s quality, but even an amateur wine taster can make a good assessment if she goes about it in the right way.
The first sense that you use is your sight which you use to assess the colour and the clarity of the wine. Examining the colour is best done whist holding a glass of the wine against a white background. As wine ages the colour changes from a deep plum red to a lighter brick red. If the colour is too dark, then the tannin content could be too high and the wine will feel good in the mouth. As white wines age the colour also changes to a deeper colour possibly with a golden, lemon or even green cast. It is essential that the wine is clear and bright if it is to be of good quality.
The second sense that you will use is your sense of smell which you will use to examine the aroma of the wine. Before you do this you should warm the wine a little by cupping it in the palms of your hands and introduce oxygen by swirling the wine gently around the glass. These actions cause the wine to release the components that contribute to its bouquet, which is sometimes called its nose.
Hold the glass towards your nose and slowly inhale allowing the wine vapours to pass over the smell receptors at the top of your nose. You can tell much from the smell, for instance if there is any taint to the wine it will be very noticeable; it should smell of the fruits and spices associated with that particular wine.
Now we move on to actually tasting the wine. Take a small sip and assess the astringency of the wine. Astringency in wine is caused by the tannins that are present. It causes a feeling of dryness in the mouth and a puckering as the lining of the mouth shrinks a little. Too much can be unpleasant, though the mouth soon adjusts and soon it becomes unnoticeable. This is why a bottle of wine tends to taste better the more of it you drink.
The next thing you should taste is the wine’s body. This means the richness of the wine. A wine with a good body will have a velvety feel and may feel smooth and silky, whilst a wine with little body will feel thin and watery. At this stage a proper sommelier will spit out the wine and take another sip, so you might like to do that if the situation is appropriate, otherwise you are advised to swallow it.
Again swirl the wine and examine what is called its “legs”. This is how well the wine sticks to the inside of the glass; wines with a good body will leave a clear coating on the glass.
When you taste the wine you are also confirming what you sensed when you tested its aroma, for instance the presence of berry and spicy flavours. Note also the aftertaste of the wine. This is called the wine’s finish and sometimes it can be very pleasant, for instance the aftertaste of pepper in a good quality Zinfandel.
This article was brought to you by Laithwaites wine merchants UK. Come in and visit one of our many shops and sample our wine, we have some of the worlds best bottles.
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