How to Run a Wine Tasting

Chianti The saying goes, you use all your senses except hearing to judge a wine. You eye the wine's color. You savor its smell. You both taste it with your mouth, and feel its texture as it swishes across your tongue. And then you contemplate its after effects. To sit by a fire with friends, sipping wine and discussing life ... what could be better?

Remember through all of this, you're figuring out how much you like the wine - this is all highly subjective! Quoted from the Wine Spectator: "When test groups of French and Germans were given wine with 8 grams of sugar per liter, 92 percent of the Germans called the wine "dry" while only 7 percent of the French did. Their reference points were different: German whites are more often frankly sweet than French ones, so the German tasters were less sensitive to sugar in their wines."

First, gather a few friends and a few bottles of wine. I've found it's best to let each person bring a bottle - you learn about all sorts of new wines you'd never heard of before. And each friend has a story about where and when they found this particular brand. Have clean glasses, water, and bread of some sort to cleanse the palate between wines. And set aside lots of time.

Open a bottle of wine. Usually people taste wine from dry to sweet, but do whatever feels good for you group. This is supposed to be fun, after all! Pour each glass maybe a third of the way full. Examine the wine both from the side and top of the glass. How is the color? Is it consistant? Are there bubbles? If there's something white to hold it against, this can help. Always hold the glass by the stem, so your hand doesn't warm up the wine.

Next, swirl the wine around so the edges of the wine just reach the top of the glass. Smell the wine. The swirling motion has released a set of odors - can you recognize anything about them? Something fruity? A berry, perhaps? Or maybe oak or wood? There are a myriad of scents in every bottle of wine. Use your eyes here as well - watch the "tears" of wine that drip back down into the bottom. Also, sometimes a wine that smells strongly of tannins will make the sides of your tongue tingle!

Taste Regions of the Tongue Take maybe a third-of-a-mouthful into your mouth, and swish it around onto every part of your tongue. Your tongue has "zones" for each type of flavor it can taste, so you want the wine to be able to go over each section. The tip senses sweet, the front sides salt, the back sides acid, and the very back bitter. Even in each section, there are buds of different "intensities". Also, examine texture. How does it feel in your mouth? Is the wine fizzy? Viscous? What new flavours can you taste and smell, now that the wine is warming up?

Finally, drink the wine and see what after-flavours continue to appear. Did everything in the wine seem "balance", or was it too sweet or tart? How long does the aftertaste last?

If you want to keep track of your wine tastings, here is a wine tasting form you can use and modify.

Hosting a Wine Tasting

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