I am sorry for the hiatus. My day job has turned into an around the clock job with little time left for family, friends, or this blog. Now I am back and hoping to continue the frequent blog posts.
One way I will accomplish this to is post meaningful entries in a shorter format. Let’s call it a top 5 or top 10 style. Basically, I will enter a few ideas or thoughts on a topic. Of course, at times a good topic will require more ink, or in this case key strokes.
Tonight I would like to discuss the top ways to ensure a great tasting experience. All too often I see folks out for a drink who clearly want to enjoy wine, but set themselves up for a less than wonderful experience.
So here are my 5 tips:
1) Select proper glassware. This tip is valid whether you are at home or in a restaurant. In fact, when you are out, do not feel bad requesting proper glassware. Many times restaurants will reserve their best “stems” for top customers or for people who spend big bucks on a bottle. This helps them keep costs down as financial losses can add up fast if you break a glass here and there. I promise that in most cases proper glass selection will make a difference in the overall tasting experience.
2) Look before you leap! What I mean is do not just dive in for the taste. I know how bad you want to do it, but hold off for a minute. Instead, engage all of your senses. Look at the color of the wine. Examine the overall clarity too. This is not wine snobbery. In fact, you should get a heightened tasting experience from taking the time to appreciate what some of your other senses have to offer.
3) Swirl & Sniff. Remember scratch and sniff stickers? This is a simialr concept. When you swirl the wine you help to release some of the phenolic compounds. Now, when you drop your schnoz over the edge of the glass you will have a much more acute sense of what the wine has to offer. To make a long story short, the sense organs in your nose pick up the compounds in the wine and transfer them to your brain. This step is essential because we can experience many more characteristics by smell than we can by taste.
4) TASTE!!!!! Yes, the moment you have been waiting for. Just don’t gulp it like an overworked soccer player hitting the Gatorade cooler. If you do that you will bypass many of the ways we encounter taste. Basically, you will flood your taste organs and drown out the experience…no pun intended. Instead, try different tasting methods. I would suggest taking in about 1/2 ounce (just a sip) and letting it slosh around in your mouth. It is even nice to aerate it a bit by breathing in through pursed lips. This will take some practice, but may change the way you perceive wine. I am betting you will notce an immediate difference.
5) Relax and Reflect. No one is saying you need to take notes every time you taste wine. However, it will pay great dividends if you take a minute to process what you have just experienced. Now, the next time you taste say, Silverado Merlot, you will have some frame of reference.
In time, if you refine your tasting techique you will also build up memeories of each wine experience. Then, after years of “practice” you may be able to amaze your friends by blind tasting a wine and telling them where it is from, what vintage it is, or even what producer made it.