101 Series: Wine Tasting 101

4th June 2010

Welcome to my new blog The Sip-Worthy Cellar. I am very excited to start the series off with Wine Tasting 101. This video will be part of a monthly series called The 101 Series. As the name implies, a wide range of topics will be discussed, distilled down into a beginner’s level format.  If you have topics you would like me to explore in The 101 Series, contact me @ bford@pcwinejournal.com.

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Wine Tasting 101 Setup

Wine Tasting 101 is a tutored tasting.  Therefore, you need a glass of wine in front of you before you begin the video.  Download the Sip-Worthy Tasting Note Card. This will be a guide for the tasting.  Go ahead and download it now…its FREE!  I will be tasting a Shiraz from Australia called D’Arenberg The Stump Jump.  You can taste any wine you have available – red or white.  However, if you want to taste the same wine, check here for availability in your area.

Tasting Tips

1. Aromas and Flavors:  This can be an insecure area for new wine drinkers.  If you can identify the flavor of your favorite candy, fruit, or food, you can identify the aromas and flavors in wine.  The key is to taste by comparison.  If you taste more than one wine during the same sitting, you can compare them and note their similarities and differences.  This will make the aromas and flavors in the wines easier to identify.  A great exercise is to choose a grape you like (e.g. Chardonnay) and pick two or three bottles of that wine from three different producers.  Use the techniques from the video and the Tasting Note Card to compare the wines side-by-side.  Look for one or two prominent aromas and flavors and keep your descriptions simple.  Don’t get too complex when describing wine.  As you taste more wine, your perception of the different characteristics will become stronger.

2. Understanding Acid:  Acid is an important component in wine.  Without acid, wines can seem flat and life-less.  If a wine has too much acid, it can be overwhelming and tart. A well balanced wine with good acidity is refreshing and crisp.  The acidity of a wine is dependent on where the grapes are grown and the grape itself.  Acidity is perceived on the sides of the tongue.  It is that zing you get when you bite into a lemon.  When assessing the acidity of your wine, does it make your mouth water?  Do you get a zing or tingle on the sides of your tongue when you taste the wine?  If the tingle is strong like a lemon – high acid.  If it is soft like a peach – low or medium acid.

3. Understanding Tannin:  Tannin is another component in wine.  It is perceived by the taster as a texture rather than a flavor.  I generally describe it as that furry feeling you get in your mouth when you drink tea that has been steeped too long (tea has tannin).  Tannin can also dry your mouth, especially on your tongue and gums.  When assessing the tannin level of your wine, does it make your mouth feel a little dry and/or slightly tacky – medium tannin.  Does it completely dry your tongue and make your mouth feel leathery – high tannin.

Over the coming weeks, I will post exercises designed to help you understand the acid and tannin concepts.  Until then, practice tasting – it is definitely the best homework!

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