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How to Taste Wine - Minstrel and Muse

"Wine is a personal experience.
So is greatness."

- William Pollard Jr. responding to the question, "Can a $15 bottle of wine be great?"

Thank you to Linda of Minstrel and Muse Audio Arts Magazine for inviting me back to share my thoughts on how to taste wine. We discussed the subject of wine tasting at home. Our focus was primarily on how to taste and appreciate red wine, with an emphasis on Malbec. We hope to arrange an online wine tasting with listeners soon. We'll have more information to share as we work out the details. I'm looking forward to this as I love to share my excitement about wine. Plus I love an audience.

> Link to Audio Program, "The ABC's of Wine Tasting".

Having worked in a winery tasting room and visited many, I feel qualified to share my feelings on the subject of Wine Tasting.

Once the wine is poured in your glass, there is a process to the tasting...

Note 1: It is common practice among experienced tasters to hold the wine glass by the stem. This will leave no fingerprints on the glass, no hand warming the wine in the glass, and it is easier to swirl the wine by holding the stem. You must swirl to release the aromas.

Note 2: A good set of wine glasses is invaluable to the appreciation of wine. I proved this to myself when I evaluated 5 different glasses. If you are using heavy, out of balance, inappropriate glasses, then I encourage you to invest in a set of quality wine glasses. I like the Riedel glasses. The Riedel Overture Red Wine Glasses are flexible enough for both red and white wines. It will enhance your appreciation of wine. 
Riedel Ouverture Magnum Red Wine Glass, Set of 6 plus 2 Bonus Glasses

Note 3: Experienced tasters also have water with them - stay hydrated.

Note 4: Don't drink and drive. Take breaks between wines to re-hydrate and eat some food. We want everyone to have safe and positive wine experiences.

The Tasting Process

1) Open the bottle.
If the wine was sealed with a real cork, then I smell the cork. What am I looking for when I smell the cork? I'm hoping that the cork smells of clean cork wood. If all I smell is clean woody cork, then the wine is ready to be tasted.

Note 5: If the cork smells musty, of mildew or wet cardboard, then the wine is "corked" and undrinkable. At least it won't be enjoyed by me. My nose and palate are extremely sensitive to corked wine. I hope your wine is NOT corked.

2) Check Color and Clarity.
Look at the color of the wine in your glass. Is it clear, dark, cloudy, golden, red, or brownish? There are ranges of color by varietal and age. What color is the wine? Wine Folly has created a beautiful chart you can use to identify the color of wine.

3) Release the Aroma.
Swirl the wine in the glass to release the aroma of the wine, and then smell the wine. I put all of my nose in the glass and inhale deeply. What do you smell? Swirl and smell again. Don't rush this part of the process - I often take my time with the wine, swirling, smelling and generally appreciating how it smells. Is it strong, subtle, spicy, floral, intense, delicate, fruity? What aromas can you identify? Wine Folly has created a comprehensive chart of 120 wine descriptors.

4) Taste the Wine.
Don't drink your wine in one swallow. Leave some wine in your glass for another taste - sips please. What did you taste? Did you taste fruit? Was it red, dark, sweet, savory, smooth, rough, dry, sweet? What flavors can you identify? Wine Folly has created a comprehensive chart of 120 wine descriptors.

5) Reflect.
This is where you find associations with the wine you are tasting. What did you smell? What did you taste? Were any memories awakened? Let your creativity and passion awake. Did this wine thrill you? Is it good for food? Were any conversations encouraged?

There are essentially three flavor profiles you are analyzing in wine: beginning (attack), middle (mid-palate), and end (the finish). A well-balanced wine will be complimentary all the way through attack, mid-palate and the finish.

The more wine you taste, the better your palate will become at describing what you taste.

Wines Mentioned

We mentioned a couple of wines during our conversation.

Catena Malbec 2011 - Argentina

aMaurice Cellars Malbec - Walla Walla, Washington

Thank you to Linda of Minstrel and Muse Audio Arts Magazine for inviting me back, this was my fourth time on the program. You can tune into Linda's Audio Arts Magazine blog at Minstrel and Muse.

> Link to Audio Program, "The ABC's of Wine Tasting".


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