Making wine is part science and part art.
Likewise, tasting wine involves more than simply lifting a glass to the lips if one is to have an opportunity to fully experience — and enjoy — the wine in that glass.
There are three basic steps involved — part scientific, part strictly hedonistic: 1. the appearance of the wine; 2. the aroma of the wine; and 3. the flavor of the wine.
What are we looking for in the “look” of the wine? Two things: its color and its viscosity.
Generally speaking, the deeper the color and the greater the viscosity — whether the wine in question is red or white — the more deeply flavored it will be. It’s not always the case, but with most wines, the flavors “follow” the color.
The same is true of the wine’s aroma. That’s why it’s so important to swirl the wine in the glass before lifting it to your nose, as swirling will help release aromatic molecules. Many of the aromas we experience when we stick our nose deep into the glass and take a few quick sniffs will be mirrored on the palate.
And then comes the really fun part: tasting the wine. This is when we take a sip in our mouth, swish it around, let it settle down, and then swallow.
I suggest closing your eyes and keeping them closed throughout this last step of the process so you can really savor and experience the full spectrum of flavors. Think about breaking down the flavors into individual parts — different types of fruits, spices and other nuances such as rich chocolate, sweet vanilla and more.
Winemakers and sommeliers use color, aroma and flavor when assessing a wine and suggesting food pairing partners. You can do the same when planning a home-cooked meal, or simply selecting a bottle to enjoy by itself.