How to taste a wine
Now its time to discover how the professionals taste. Look at the label of the 1st wine from your Wiine.Me Box, The Neff des Fous Riesling, and see what clues you can glean from the information given to you. Pour yourself a glass of this wine and learn how to analyze wine like a pro.
This approach is called the 5s or the Top Down approach. It starts with the eyes and sight.
The color of a wine can give you a lot of information, including climate, age, varietal, and whether it was aged in wood.
For the wine in your glass…that delicious Riesling from Alsace:
- Green tinge = cool climate – Alsace in Northern France is dry, sunny, and cool.
- Pale in color intensity = young wine – this wine is from 2011. As a white wine ages, it becomes darker.
- Straw-green color – this is a typical color of the Riesling varietal - a.k.a. the type of wine grape.
If a white wine is aged in a wooden barrel it becomes more golden. Here, its very bright, therefore no barrel age.
Swirling ‘aerates’ the wine and makes more aromas and flavors come out. Basically, it makes the wine taste more delicious.
Sniff – FEW-O
When you think about a wine - think about the FRUIT, EARTH, WOOD, and OTHER scents in your wine (and the acronym FEW-O). Use our awesome wine aroma periodic table to figure out what you are smelling.
- Fruit: green apple, lime, and orange peel
- Earth: honey, wet rocks
- Wood: none…since Riesling is very fresh and fruity, winemakers don’t like to mask this freshness with woody flavors. Oak influence in wine can make the wine smell like smoke, vanilla, cloves, spice, and caramel.
- Other: these are chemical smells which aren’t necessarily bad. This Riesling, like most high quality Rieslings has a hint of petrol on the nose.
Don’t forget that 90% of taste is smell – so really think about what you are smelling!
Now comes everyone’s favorite step – sip! Make sure you pay attention to what you are drinking! Think about…
- Sweetness - this happens when there is a bit of residual sugar left in the wine. Most wine is made until there is almost no residual sugar left. Many people confuse sweetness with fruit. This Riesling is very fruity, with a tiny hint of sweetness.
- Bitterness - this can be due to high alcohol content and/or tannins (not found in white wines – we’ll talk about that in the next lesson)
- Tannin - what did I just say?
- Acidity - this wine component makes your mouth water. Its more evident in white wine than red. It is the tartness in the wine. The wine in your glass has a quite high acidity. It feels very zesty. This acidity makes it pair really well with light foods.
- Fruit - each varietal has a different fingerprint that makes it taste different from other varietals. The Riesling is citrusy, and fresh. Rieslings have a zesty, citrus flavor that is hard to replicate.
When the wine is gone, it is sad. But the finish of the wine is quite important. The finish of a wine is how long you can taste the wine after you’ve swallowed it. The longer the finish, the better quality the wine.
The finish should be like a good date – smooth, elegant, and goes on for exactly how long you want it. Think about if you enjoy the finish, if it is delicious it is a good wine for your taste, if you don’t like it so much, even if the finish goes on for 5 minutes, maybe this is not the wine for you.