How to taste
The key to wine tasting is to do everything slowly, to savour and analyse all aspects of the wine. The first thing you see is its colour. The colour will give clues to the wine's vintage (harvest date), alcohol content and grape variety. Red's lighten with age and whites darken with age.
Take a quick sniff before swirling for clues to the grape and signs of oak. Swirl around holding the stem of the class and rolling your wrist. After the first swirl, look for the legs or tears. Legs usually indicate sweeter and higher alcohol wines. Swirl again to get a good dose of air into the wine which will release the deep aromas of the wine. Time to let your nose do the detective work
Get your nose in there and inhale from the glass. What can you smell? Close your eyes and try to analyse big smells first -think fruity, floral, earthy, spicy, then get into the details; roses or lychees, cinnamon or anise, clay or limestone? The key is to identify an aroma, write it down and then move on. What else is in there?
Take a small sip and use your tongue to move the wine around in your mouth. Inhale air through the gap in your mouth to make a slurping sound. This will help oxygenate the wine and release further aromas and flavours. Where does the flavour hit you? The tongue detects sweet at its tip and acidity at its sides. The back senses bitter and your lips and cheeks will pucker with tannin. Swallow or spit to sense alcohol percentage. How does the wine finish? Long, complex, multi-layered? The key to a good wine is balance!