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To Spit or Swallow – Wine Tasting 101

October 10th, 2010 · No Brilliant Opinions · Wine

I do not consider myself a wine “expert.”  I am a novice but I enjoy the experience of trying new wines, researching food and wine pairings and visiting various vineyards.

1.  At most vineyards, a standard wine pour for tasting purposes is 2 ounces.  If your pours are smaller, it may be difficult to fully evaluate a wine.

2.  Evaluate the color and clarity of your wine.  White wines may be clear, golden, brown or even yellow in appearance.  Red wines can be various shades of  purple, dark brown, or  cranberry.  Sometimes pieces of cork, grape remnants or other sediment may be visible.

3.  Your server should be able to inform you about the type of grapes used to make each wine, climate in which they are grown and harvested, processing methods etc.  Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.

4.  Swirl your wine  for 10 seconds by holding the glass by the stem and smell the aroma.  How long does it linger?  What delicious scents do you perceive? Oak, citrus, vanilla?

5.  Now taste.  How long does the taste linger?  What sensations, memories and thoughts does the wine evoke? What is pleasing to the taste buds is very individual. Wine tasting is very personal and what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander.   Wine tasting is a great group activity and you should feel free to discuss your taste preferences with your group iscuss your taste preferences with your group after consumption of each wine. Try not to alter someone else’s perception of a wine with your own opinons. I like to compare wine preferences to art collecting.  It’s all about what you enjoy.  My art collection spans inexpensive posters to original paintings — but I enjoy and love them equally.  Your wine selection should reflect not price or “expert” reviews — but what is pleasing to you.

6.  Between wines, you can cleanse your palate by eating a plain cracker or you may choose to rinse your mouth with water.  Don’t swallow the water as it may leave a taste of chlorine in your mouth thus affecting the taste of your next choice.  You may prefer to bring a small bottle  of spring water with you.  A bucket, cup or spittoon may be provided if  you choose to  spit after each tasting. I personally don’t like the idea of spitting anywhere – least of all at a vineyard. However, this is a personal choice.  If you are a spitter, you will likely see me edging away from you at the serving counter as I hate the sound of spitting and the  thought of all those aerosolized germ particles floating around my wine.

7.  When changing from white to red wines, you may opt to rinse and wipe your glass or get a fresh one.

8.  Your server is a wealth of information regarding what foods go well with each featured wine.  Inquire about meats, fish, cheeses or desserts that can be paired with your favorites.

9.  I like to carry a small notebook to record my impressions – was the wine bitter, sweet, light, full bodied, acid, leave an aftertaste?

10.  Most vineyards will offer a tasting of 6 wines.  If  you are tasting more than six wines, a designated driver or car service is recommended.

11.  Vineyard tours are usually offered on weekends unless you schedule a group visit during the week.

What tips do you have for enjoying wine tasting? Please feel free to share your suggestions below.


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