If you’ve never been wine tasting, or haven’t done so often, you might be under the impression that wine tasting has to be a complicated process filled with opportunities for faux pas. It doesn’t have to be this way.
At Zephyr Adventures we spend a great deal of time selecting which vineyards to visit, making sure you are treated to a variety of wines and vineyards large and small. Zephyr staff get you to the tasting rooms when crowds are minimal, and are right on hand to answer any questions you have about the wine tasting process. We are there with you every step of the way.
Today Elspeth Payne will share a few tips to make the most of your Zephyr Adventures wine tour.
Before your tour, take a bit of time to learn a bit about the region, and even the specific vineyards you’ll visit. Find out what kind of wines they’re known for, what the growing conditions are like, etc. It’s fun to know a little about your hosts when you arrive. And hosts they are – many winery and vineyard owners live on premises; they at least work there every day, lovingly raising their grapes to be the best possible. Winemakers are generally rightfully proud of what they do.
Once you arrive at the vineyard, make sure you try the wine the vineyard is best known for. Get a sense of what they do really well. There’s always the chance that what they’re best known for isn’t what you’ll like best. If they give you the opportunity to try the same wine made in different years, take it. You’ll get to see how the wine changes over time (and decide whether you want to keep a bottle for aging at home). Don’t neglect the other varieties the vineyard has available.
Good wine is the sum of its parts. The taste is complex, and your nose and each part of your tongue it touches may pick up something very different. Everyone’s sense of taste and smell is different. Here’s an uncomplicated guide on how to get acquainted with a new wine:
Give it a look
Hold up your glass where the light can shine through. Enjoy the color, see the subtle variations from the edges to the center of the glass. Whites should be straw or golden colors. Reds can be red, ruby, or even purple. They can range from clear to opaque. The tasting room staff will probably serve you whites first (assuming they make some). Relax, enjoy the light show.
Check Out Its Legs
Tilt the glass a little, then straighten it back up. See those slender lines of liquid that slowly drip down the inside of the glass? They tell you about the alcohol and sugar content. Sweeter, more alcoholic wines have thicker, slower legs.
Start by smelling the wine. Swirl it a little in the glass to release the aroma then lightly and quickly smell it. What do you notice? Fruit, like cherries or apricots? Roses? Nuts? The label (or the helpful staff) may tell you what you can expect, but that may not be what you notice.
A tiny sip will do. It may taste different in the front, middle, and back of your tongue, and different again going down. What does it feel like? Is it smooth? Kind of crisp? Do you notice woody or smoky flavors? Do you taste the same thing you smelled? You may or may not. That’s part of the fun.
After you swallow, exhale lightly through your nose and mouth. Notice how long the flavor lingers and whether this wine leaves an aftertaste. Do you like it, or is it bitter or “hot” (alcoholic?) This is probably the best moment to think about what food you’d like to be eating when you enjoy a glass of this wine.
Don’t Be Fooled By Its Age
Older is not necessarily better. Every wine has a peak, and they’re all different. Generally you can enjoy whites 2-3 years after bottling, but higher-end whites can last ten years or more. Some wines don’t keep. Find out when that wine you loved is at its prime. You may need to drink it as soon as you get it back home.
There isn’t any impression a wine is supposed to leave, and everyone tastes and smells differently. Wines will vary for each individual. Your surroundings, your comfort level, the food you just had for lunch, even the time of day can influence what wine tastes like to you. Try them in different settings if you can. If you’re the note-taking type, keep a log of what your day was like along with what you thought of the wines you tasted. If you’re travelling, that can turn into a lovely record of your trip! Don’t get caught up in the do’s and don’ts of wine tasting. Use our tips as a handy guide and simply enjoy your wine tasting experience!
This guest blog post was written by Elspeth Payne, a blogger who writes about beer, mead, wine and brewing history. You can view her blog here!