It’s a new year. A new beginning. Perhaps, just perhaps, a time to uncomplicate our lives and get back to the basics.
For a wine lover, that means not only drinking wine, but savoring it. Appreciating it. Getting the most out of each and every sip.
The full “wine experience” begins when the cork is popped or the screw cap is “clicked” (what is the best word for that sound?), and the wine is poured into a glass. “Experiencing” wine involves using all of our senses, beginning with sight.
Once the wine has settled in the glass, take a look at it. What color is it? Is the hue deep or light? Is it clear or cloudy? Is there sediment? Every detail reveals something about the wine.
Next, stick your nose in the glass and take several short sniffs, one after the other. Many books encourage you, at this point, to “breathe in deeply,” but you’ll get a much more accurate impression of the wine’s aroma spectrum by sniffing.
Is the aroma intense, or relatively light? Does it smell like flowers or fruit? Do you notice any other nuances—impressions of earth or wood or spices? The aromas should mirror the flavors, so smelling the wine is a preview of tasting it.
Finally, it’s time to bring the glass to your lips. Take a small amount of the wine into your mouth, and swish it around your tongue. Remember, different parts of your tongue detect different types of flavors (sweet, salty, bitter), so you really need to cover the tongue in order to get an accurate “picture” of the flavors.
How does the wine feel in your mouth? Is it heavy, light, or something in-between? After swallowing the wine, do its flavors linger or dissipate quickly?
Every wine is unique. One that’s deep in color may by fairly light in mouthfeel. One with an assertive aroma may have a relatively short finish. Or vice versa. Looks can be deceiving. So can aromas.
By looking at the wine, smelling the wine, tasting the wine and noting the finish of the wine, you’ll not only enjoy the full “wine experience,” but also find it easier to remember what you especially liked about it. You’ll begin to associate labels with aromas and flavors, the first step in assembling your very own “favorite wine” list.
By getting back to the basics, we can expand not only our enjoyment of wine, but also our knowledge of it.