We know, it seems counter-intuitive, but the entire process around wine tasting teaches you to make healthier food and drink choices. Not convinced? Allow us. It all starts with the simple idea that to tasting wine is not the same as drinking wine. It’s this seemingly minute detail that changes the game.
Our sharp senses have become obsolute througout human evolutionary history. You won’t find too many poisonous plants during your shopping trip at the supermarket. Worst case, you might bump into the occasional really sour milk in your fridge which your nose will politely warn you fo, but in general our life does not depend on our sense of smell and taste anymore. By fine-tuning our senses, we learn to distinguish what we like eating and why we like eating it so much.
But what when you put your nose in the glass, and all you smell is….wine? How do you learn to distinguish the different aromas in red and white wine? Practice makes perfect and the same is true for wine tasting. Anyone can become an expert, just change these small drinking habits.
1. Follow your nose
No matter how good a dish looks, before you take a bite, smell it! Get to know the basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour and bitter) and learn to distinguish them from more complex aromas. Smell EVERYTHING (but keep it classy) and store those scents in your memory. Create a scent library and force your brain to reconnect with your nose.
2. Slow down
Take your time for eating and drinking. Chew more, eat slowly. Give your senses the time to place everything. In short: slow down. Leave the wine in your mouth for a bit, that’s where all the taste buds are. You will taste more by taking your time. Take small sips. Wines, and especially the good ones change in the bottle and in your glass as soon as the bottle comes into contact with oxygen. Give the wine the time to show you all its facets.
Close your eyes and visualise what you smell. Is it the scent of an unrime peach you are cutting on a board? Of sweet plums stewing on the stove? Or is your grandfather’s Cuban cigar? Give your imagination the chance to join in the game.
4. Past the fruit salad
When applying abovementioned steps, you will come across the weird secondary and tertiary aromas quite quickly. You can classify most wine descriptions as homeric fruit salad comparisons: “black berries, sweet papaya and unripe mango” for example. They can be pretty nonsensical and more for wine journalists. As soon as you start paying attention to what’s happening in the glass, you will become aware of the intensity of a wine and you will slowly begin to understand what the term ‘balance’ in wine means. It’s the harmony of all components of a wine: the structure, the fruit, the acidity, length and complexity.
5. Taste wines in flights and compare
Our brain finds it difficult to distinguish the subtle nuances between wines. It’s easier if you taste the wines in flights. The tropical fruit from Sauvignon blancs next to the stonefruit of some Viogniers is more prominent when tasted alongside each other. It helps you build your mental database.
6. No fear
Some people get self-conscious when talking about wine because they’re afraid to give the wrong answer. Here’s the thing. Whatever you associate with wine is highly personal. There are no right or wrong answers. For some people ‘fresh raspberry’ might be ‘crunchy cherry’. If you’re new to this. Start thinking in a larger category for example: is the wine fruit or savoury? Then, try and look for more specific aroma’s such as tobacco, cherry, apricot, etc.
”Connecting your senses and taking your time for eating and drinking is not only beneficial for wine tasting but also for life. Wine tasting is therefore good for your health.”
Quod Erat Demonstrandum