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Wine Tasting Events are held at various venues, such as: wineries, restaurants, vineyards, wine cellars, wine bars, etc. You never know who you'll bump into at these social gatherings and parties, some of which are even specifically - just for singles.
But what if you don't know anything
How do you find a Wine Tasting event?
Wine Tasting for the Average Joe
Going to a wine tasting can be a very fun and enjoyable experience. However, many people do not attend for fear of not knowing exactly how to act or what to do. There no great mystery to wine tastings, just a few things you should remember.
As far as etiquette, usually the ladies are served before the gentlemen. Some wine tastings offer you bottled water. Use this to rinse out your mouth between tastings so your palate is clean for the next wine. There is often unsalted and unflavored crackers and bread to help palate cleansing as well. You should always handle the wine glass by the stem. This helps avoid heating the wine with the warmth of your hands, thus altering the taste. Avoid wearing strong perfumes and colognes to a wine tasting. That may take away from not only your smell, but also that of the other guests. Also, avoid smoking, gum, and mints before and during a wine tasting to be able to enjoy the full flavor of the wine.
You can tell a lot about a wine just by looking at its color. When you attend a wine tasting, the glasses should always be clear so you can get a good look at the wine. The tables may also be covered with white tablecloths to help you see the wine's color clearly. Do not let the wine name full you. For example, white wines are not white in color. They may range from yellow to green to brown. Red wines range in color from pale red to a deep brownish red and often become lighter with age. Sometimes the color of a wine may indicate age or flavor. You may be able to tell the age of a red wine by doing a rim test. Tilt the glass slightly towards the rim of the wine glass and look at the wine. If the color of the red wine is more of a purple, it is usually a younger wine. If the color of the red wine is brown, it is an older wine.
Another thing you may have seen people do before they taste wine is swirl it slightly in the glass. This is to help open up the wine's flavor. Remember that the wine may have been in a bottle anywhere from six months to many, many years. When someone swirls a wine, it helps release the flavors. Just like when you're cooking at home and stir the food to help blend the flavors.
The color of the wine is just one aspect you will want to look at when you attend a wine tasting. You will also want to smell the wine. After swirling, this is the next step in the tasting process. You have probably seen people smell wine before and wondered why they did it. Smell plays a very important part in what we taste. Researchers have determined that perhaps as much as 75% of what we taste is actually based on what we smell first. You can smell your wine one of two ways: taking a small whiff to get an idea of how the wine smells, then a deeper whiff or take one deep whiff. After smelling the wine, take a minute to think about the smell. You do not want to immediately taste it after smelling but give yourself time to explore exactly what you smelled.
Finally, you will need to know is how to taste the wine properly. Your tongue has taste buds in both the front and back. These taste buds can detect bitter, salty, sweet, and sour flavors, but some are more sensitive than others are. There are three steps in tasting a wine: the first impression, the taste, and the aftertaste. The first impression happens when you take your first drink and the wine actually hits your taste buds. It should awaken your sense to the wine. After taking the first drink, you should swish the wine around your mouth for a few seconds to let all your taste buds discover the full flavor of the wine. Think about what the wine tastes like. Is it light or heavy? Is the smooth or harsh? The aftertaste is the sensation that remains in your mouth after swallowing the wine. How long did it last and was it pleasant?
Before attending a wine tasting, it may help you feel more confident to read about the different types of wines. This will give you a better idea of what to look for as far as flavor and taste. Next time you are invited to a wine tasting; do not be afraid to go. You may be missing a great experience!
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Guide To Tasting Wine
The basics of tasting wine are relatively simple to learn. Once the fundamentals are mastered, the nuances and details can be enhanced over a lifetime. Like any other skill, tasting wine requires practice, and consistency is probably the most important factor.
One helpful strategy an aspiring wine taster can pursue is tasting with a friend that has superior knowledge. Questions can be addressed, and you will quickly become comfortable with this unnecessarily intimidating subject.
Another important strategy for a beginning wine taster is to taste several wines side-by-side that share at least one common variable. This could be the varietal, style, AVA of origin, or any combination of the three.
Tasting blind will minimize any prior opinions or stereotypes. You may be surprised to discover that less-expensive wines are more pleasing to you.
The Essentials of Tasting Wine
It is imperative that you taste in spotlessly clean glasses. The most common contaminants in unclean glasses are invisible molecules left behind by cleaning products. Even high-end restaurants can be guilty of this faux pas. It is best to thoroughly hand wash glasses with unabrasive soaps and hot water.
It is beneficial, but not necessary to use varietal-specific glasses when tasting wine. Research has shown that the shape of glasses really does make a difference in the sensory experience.
Overview of the Tasting Process
Wine tasting employs much more than just the taste buds, although they are very important. Your palate is a term for how taste buds on your tongue translate particular flavors to your brain. The palate can perceive only four basic flavors: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness. Most of the subtle flavor components of wine are actually picked up by one's sense of smell.
Although many of our daily perceptions are unconscious, making a concerted effort to pay attention to several things makes the tasting process more educational and rewarding. Despite the mystique that surrounds many wine "experts", tasting wine can be broken into simple steps. Wine knowledge usually stems from practice and confidence, not any inherent superiority.
Of course, some people have more developed senses than others. An extreme example is Robert Parker, widely regarded as the most influential wine critic in the world. Mr. Parker's tasting ability is derived from his natural ability to be keenly aware of his senses.
It is within the grasp of the vast majority of people to confidently differentiate varietals, styles, flavor profiles, and flaws when tasting wine. Tasting wine requires not only a grasp of your senses, but also the ability to articulate (with the proper vernacular) your thoughts about a particular wine.
Relevance of Sight in Tasting Wine
Your sense of sight will reveal a lot about a particular wine before smelling and tasting it. Immediately after pouring, check to see how clear the wine is. While haziness may simply indicate a full-bodied, unfiltered red wine, in any other style it is usually cause for concern. Wines will often taste the way that they look (an unrefined look may indicate a clumsy, unfocused wine).
Viewing the color of the edge of a wine in a glass will give you an indication of its maturity (or lack thereof). Mature, aged-worthy reds will have a deep crimson, or even brownish look. Too much brown usually means that the wine is past its prime. the rim of a white wine will generally be light yellow in youth, and and progress to an amber color with age.
After your initial visual impressions, swirl the wine in your glass. While this may be tricky at first, you will pick it up quickly. This reveals the "legs". The more wine sticks to the side of a glass, the higher the alcohol content.
The Role of the Sense of Smell During Wine Tasting
As mentioned earlier, many of the subtle "tastes" of wine are actually perceived by your sense of smell. While there are only four perceptible tastes, there are thousands of different scents. Revealingly, sinus congestion will stop even the most experienced and accomplished wine taster in his/her tracks. Smell is perceived through the upper nose as well as through the back of the throat. Molecules of different scents are registed by the olfactory bulb in the sinuses.
Before smelling a wine, swirl the glass again to reveal the aroma. When smelling a wine, attempt to put any familiar aromas into the context of previous tastings. This is the fundamental basis for increasing your knowledge of tasting wine.
After smelling the wine, the majority of registered perceptions occur very quickly. Sense of smell is very delicate and easily overwhelmed. Smelling the same thing repeatedly becomes less and less revelatory in rapid succession. If you do not immediately pick out the array of aromas in a wine, relax for a minute or two, then try again.
The Actual Tasting Begins
After experiencing the aroma of a wine, it is logically time to taste. Swirl the wine once more, and then swallow a small sip. After your initial impression, take a slightly larger sip and make an effort to coat your entire mouth. This is called, "chewing" the wine. Before swallowing, aerate the wine in your mouth. While this makes a slightly strange sound, the enhanced flavors and aromas that are released are more than worth it.
Another important component in the tasting process is touch, or how the wine feels in your mouth. Major variables to be aware of are the body of the wine, serving temperature, and astringency. The body of a wine includes the depth of flavor and alcohol content. If these components are underrepresented, a wine will taste dilluted.
Serving temperature is an important variable that mainly hinges on the varietal(s) that compose a particular wine. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc will taste flat at room temperature, and should be chilled. On the contrary, a well-aged Cabernet Sauvignon will not reveal its true complexity when served too cold. The incorrect serving temperature for a wine will adversely affect both the aroma and flavor.
Astringency is basically a synonym for bitterness, and is caused by excessive or unmellowed tannins. Great red wines often taste astringent in their youth, but develop into opulent masterpieces when mature.
I hope that you believe that proper wine tasting skills are within your reach; because they certainly are. Mankind's ancient enjoyment of wine is largely derived from the fact that our senses, feelings, and preferences are the basic components of what makes us human.
An Introduction to Wine
What is wine?
Wine has been made for centuries from just a two simple ingredients: yeast and grape juice. Actually, just about any fruit juice can be used, but by far the majority of all wine is made from the juice of the grape.
How is wine made?
Yeast is the magical ingredient that turns grape juice into wine. Interestingly enough, there is actually wild yeast spores in the air and all that is really needed to make wine is an open container of grape juice and time. The result however, would probably not be the most palatable of beverages.
There are numerous strains of yeasts and the types used to make wine have been cultured just for this purpose. Well anyway, yeast is a living organism that feeds off of sugars in the grape juice in a process called fermentation.
During fermentation, yeast spores will reproduce exponentially until all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed. During this fermentation process, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The yeast will also impart a taste to the finished wine depending on various factors such as the strain of yeast used, the temperature during fermentation and other factors.
Once all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed, the yeast will fall to the bottom of the container. The wine is removed from the container, leaving the yeast, and is transferred to another container to mature while waiting to be bottled.
Of course, this whole process has been extremely simplified for a general understanding.
How does wine get its color?
You probably know that there are green grapes and black grapes and different grapes are used to make different wines.
What you might not know is that almost all grape juice (even from the black grapes) is basically colorless to golden in color.
The way a wine gets its color is by letting the skins soak in the juice during fermentation. You can actually make white wine from black grapes by not letting the skins stay in contact with the juice. Champagne is one of the most famous examples.
If the skins are left in the wine for only a short amount of time, a rose (or blush) will be made. If they are left for an extended amount of time, a dark red wine will be the result.
What gives each wine its taste?
Even though there are very few ingredients, there are many things which influence the taste of wine. First of all, there are many varieties of grapes. Each grape variety will produce different flavors, aromas, and even textures.
In addition, the soil and climate where the grapes are grown drastically affect these variables.
Not only that, but the wine maker can control various things by the technique, temperature and yeast used during fermentation. Other variables such as fermenting or storing in oak barrels will also affect the taste.
Never fear, with all of these factors considered even the most avid wine drinker would ever be able to experience all of the different varieties of wine on the market today. Let the treasure hunting begin!
What is tannin?
Tannin is a substance in wine that causes a firm, mouth-drying feeling in your mouth. It is extracted from the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes so red wines will contain more tannin than whites.
White wines will get a degree of tannin when oak barrels are used for fermentation or aging. Eat just the skins of grapes or drink strongly brewed, unsweetened tea for a good idea of what tannin feels like in your mouth.
What are sulfites?
By law, almost all wine made in the United States will have “Contains Sulfites” on the label. This is because about very small percentage of asthma sufferers can be extremely sensitive to sulfites.
Sulfites or sulfur dioxide is a compound occurring naturally during the fermentation process. Sometimes, though a wine maker will add a little more because of its antibacterial and preservative qualities. White wines have more sulfites than red wines because they need more protection.
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