Wine for Thought: The Ultimate Wine Tasting Cheat Sheet
THE SIX S'S of WINE TASTING
and the FIVE WINE CHARACTERISTICS
Whether you are new to wine or a seasoned vet, we have some tips and tricks to getting the most out of your wine-tasting experience.
Take a close look at the wine in your glass; There is more to the color than you might think! White wines can range in color from clear to shades of yellow or a golden, honey color. A more honey-colored wine typically tells you that it may have been aged longer and could have spent some time in an oak barrel. Reds can range from red to purple and even a garnet or brick-colored red. Again, color can often indicate the age of wine; and since it's not polite to ask one's age, you can assume that a darker or more "brick-colored" red has been aged a bit longer than one that is more of bright red or purple.
This one is simple... Swirling your glass will help to aerate the wine, releasing its beautiful aromas! Read about HOW to swirl and why from Wine Folly>>
Swirling also allows you to see "Legs" or "Tears" running down the sides of the glass. Thicker legs are a sign of higher alcohol or sweetness in a wine. Here's more from wine folly>>
Our sense of smell plays a major role in how something tastes. Don't be shy... Get your nose in there and take a nice deep breath!
here are some common aromas you may pick up on in wine.
- Red Wines: Dark berries (blackberry, raspberry, cherry, plum), chocolate, nuts.. even tobacco!
- White Wines: Apples, pears, apricots, citrus, tropical fruits, honey, herbs & even flowers!
Take your first small sip, observe the initial flavors and feel of the wine on the tip of your tongue; and observe how the taste changes as it travels down the back of your tongue. Tip: it takes more than one sip to really pick up on all the nuances of a wine!
On the second sip, swish the wine in your mouth and observe the flavors and aftertaste, how the wine lingers on your palate, etc. It likely tastes different than the first sip! Swishing the wine around in your mouth allows your entire palate to taste every aspect of the wine.
Good wine is meant to be savored. Taking your time and savoring each sip will allow you to really take in the complexity of the wine.
FIVE CHARACTERISTICS you should observe while tasting your wine (please reference this complete guide from wine folly)
- Sweetness - While residual sugar in the wine is often a guide to the level of sweetness you will perceive, other elements (like acidity, tannins, etc) can affect how "sweet" or "dry" (opposite of sweet) a wine tastes.
- Acidity - White wines are typically more acidic than red wines. The acidity balances out the sweetness of the wine and gives it a crispness.
- Tannins - Tannins are what give you that drying feeling on your tongue (very similar to what you experience when drinking a cup of coffee or tea). This bitter taste comes from grape skins and seeds and is often more obvious in red wines.
- Alcohol - we can all sense alcohol towards the backs of our mouths in our throats as a warming sensation.
- Body - Are you in the mood for a light, medium, or full-bodied wine? The body is the result of many factors – from wine variety, where it’s from, vintage, alcohol level, and how it’s made. The body is a snapshot of the overall impression of a wine.
One Last S for Good Luck: STORAGE
When it comes to wine storage, play it cool. Wine is best stored at a temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and should be kept out of direct sunlight. UV rays will prematurely age your wine. Storing your wine on its side (wine racks are making so much more sense now), will keep the cork from drying out and allowing oxygen in. Here's a more in-depth guide on storing wine on Wine Folly>>
Now that you've got your handy-dandy cheat sheet, you're ready for a trip to Adirondack Winery! With the Six S's of Wine Tasting, you may just find a new favorite wine! Cheers!