Wine tasting doesn’t need to be daunting. Or overthought. Or just plain wanky. It does need to be enjoyable. And it can be when you follow the rules of the five S’s.
- See: colour can indicate age, variety and flavour concentration. A bright ruby or garnet might indicate a young shiraz, but a orange or “brick”-like colur indicates age. A translucent white might get you prepped for a young, cool climate riesling, instead of an aged, oaked “new world” chardonnay.
- Swirl: tilting your glass then swirling it will help open up the wine, enhancing flavour and aroma. Also, “legs” of wine slowly dripping down the inside of the glass indicate age.
- Sniff: Close your eyes…take a quick whiff. Then really get your nose in there. What do you smell? If you didn’t know you were smelling wine, what would you think you were smelling? There’s no right or wrong, though berries, fruits and spices are the most common aromas.
- Sip and Slurp: finally, taste it. Let it sit on your tongue, then swirl it around your mouth. Red wines will taste like red fruits, earth, and wood, but white wines are associated with citrus, apple and floral flavours. Suck a little bit of air in through pursed lips too – this will get more oxygen in there, to help bring out the flavours. Also, a wine’s “finish”. A longer lasting flavour will likely be found in a full-bodied, warmer climate wine (like a Heathcote shiraz) but a short, crisp finish is found in a younger, lighter wine.
- Savour or Spit: check for the balance of all the flavours and feelings in your mouth. The tip of your tongue detects the sweetness, and your inner cheeks pick up the tannins (tannic wines give a “puckering” feeling in the cheeks). The longer the taste stays in your mouth after swallowing (or spitting), the higher quality the wine.
But the best way to learn is to do it. Sign up to an online wine course, like Andrea Robinson’s. You’ll get more out of every wine you taste. And hey, it’s a classy excuse to drink wine by yourself at home.
Or check out these videos: