August 28 is Red Wine Day — Are You Tasting Correctly?
East Texas has famous local wineries and restaurants that serve vintages from around the world. You've seen the snooty guy on TV who swirls and sniffs his wine, then swishes it around like mouthwash and you know that's not the look you're going for, but there is more to wine tasting than just sipping and swallowing. This August 28, pour a glass of red and enjoy it with these tips.
Let it Sit
Red wine should be decanted before you take the first sip. As wine is exposed to air, it becomes more mellow and smooth tasting. Don't just remove the cork from the bottle, you'll need to pour it into a wine glass or decanter. Old vintages shouldn't be left too long, but most wines need about an hour to properly aerate.
Stop and Observe
Wine glasses are designed both to let the wine breathe, to collect the wine's aroma and to allow you to observe its beauty. Pick up the glass by the stem so you don't leave fingerprints on the bowl or warm the wine with your body heat.
Look at the wine against a white background like a tablecloth, napkin or sheet of paper. Young red wine tends to be more purple or ruby in hue. If the wine has an orange tint, it's probably an older variety.
Why People Swirl Wine
Wine connoisseurs swirl wine to better appreciate its aroma or bouquet. As the liquid churns, it generates waves around the glass' inner edge. Outside wine is displaced toward the middle and oxygenation increases. The wine's aroma is more noticeable and its color easier to observe.
If the wine sticks to the outside edge a little as it swirls, it's said to have "legs." If it flows more like heavy cream you can describe it as "full-bodied." If not, it's "light."
How to Sniff Red Wine
I know, at this point you're probably ready to actually drink the wine, but on Red Wine Day don't shortchange yourself. You experienced it with your eyes, now expose your olfactory sense to red wine pleasure.
Swirling vaporizes aromatic compounds, so after you swirl bring the glass to your nose quickly. Stick your nose inside and sniff, almost like you would smell a flower. Some people take a slow, deep inhale. Others sniff quickly. Keep your mouth open while you inhale so the scent almost trickles to your taste buds.
Then let your mind relax and see what the scent brings to mind. Do you think of fruit? smoke? Flowers? Scents from nature? Describe it to the people you're with. Bonus points if you use words like, "aroma" and "palate."
Tasting Red Wine
When you take your first sip, allow the wine to flow across your tongue, into the sides of your mouth and then down your throat. After you swallow, open your mouth and inhale to expose those parts of your mouth to fresh oxygen. Notice how the flavors change.
If you're new at wine tasting, read the label to find out what flavors might be present. Then see if you can pick them out. If the wine was aged in oak barrels, you might detect hints of vanilla or wood. Take your time and see if you can detect hints of raspberry, pear or chocolate.
Note what you like and don't like. Try different types of red wines to discover whether you like wines that are sweeter or drier.
Practice makes perfect, and there's no better time to start than Red Wine Day 2018. What do you think? Post your wine tasting advice in the comments.