Jun 2011
Jun 2011

Learning how to taste wines is enjoyable and rewarding. Many people have discovered wine country tours to be an educational experience. Temecula wineries offer a good introduction to the beginning wine taster. The senses of vision, smell and taste are the beginners’ tools for understanding wine. The sense of smell allows the beginner to smell hundreds of special scents and it is the combination of the senses of smell and taste that gives the beginner the ability to detect flavor.

Always hold the tasting glass by the stem. If held by the glass the wine will absorb the heat from the hands and the taste will be distorted.

Vision is a sense that a wine taster uses. Study the color and the clarity of the wine by pouring it into a wine glass. Check out the color from the edges of the glass to the middle of the glass so that the true color becomes visible. The color goes beyond red or white. A brownish color is not a good characteristic in red or white wines. It indicates oxidation which means the wine is too old.

The color of a red wine is important. The color may be maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even brownish. Garnet is the color of classic wines at the peak of their maturity and these are very drinkable. A purple color can indicate that a wine is too young. Ruby wines are young and maturing but still drinkable.

White wine can be clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown in appearance. Straw-like yellow is a color indicating wines with moderate age. A pale gold color is characteristic of wines in their mature state.

Let the sense of vision detect any opaqueness. An opaque color is usually an indication that white wine is old; A white wine should be translucent.

The sense of smell is critical to considering the quality of a wine. The novice may feel snobbish swirling a glass for 10 seconds but it is a critical process to release some of the wine's aromas. Take in a quick whiff to get that important first impression.

The beginner often feels out of place by putting their nose down in the glass and taking a deep breath. The beginning wine taster has a second impression when the nose picks up the smell of oak, berries, flowers, or citrus. A wine's aroma is an excellent way to judge its quality and unique characteristics. Swirl the wine and let the aromas mix into a cloud of different smells that can be quite exotic.

The taste is the next sense to use. Take a small sip and let the wine settle on the palate. The wine makes an initial impression on the palate. Ideally the wine will be complex in the balancing of the alcohol content, tannin, and acidity.

The beginner should consider these questions: Did the wine leave a bitter, or sour taste, did it seem smooth? Would this wine be bought for drinking at home? Is the producer memorable for the quality and overall characteristics of the wine?

Having an understanding of what a good wine is all about is a good beginning to the learning experience. Temecula wineries can assist with this important aspect of wine buying.

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