You’ve just been handed a glass of wine at a fancy vineyard on your trip abroad. You can’t wait to wrap your lips around the glass and taste that liquid gold dance over your taste buds and tease your cheeks. But wait, what are you going to say to the host when she asks your opinion?
“Mmm, tasty! I’d definitely drink this while sitting on the couch in my pajama’s with my cat!” NO! We’ve all been there; I enjoy wine but I don’t feel confident enough to make a specific comment on the quality because of my lack of wine knowledge. Well that is about to stop right now because I’ve asked wine expert and blogger, Jelle De Roeck for the secret tips to impress any wine snob. Here is our quick go-to-guide on tasting like a wine expert and rating wines like one as well.
There are four important categories to consider when tasting wine:
1. Appearance – The wine should look healthy and alive; like ‘love at first sight’ it should elicit a feeling of anticipation or excitement.
2. Nose – This refers to the smell or smelling of the wine. According to Jelle, you must look for energy. If the wine screams to be drunk, it will probably be a good wine. If the wine is saggy, boring, and has no mystery it is called “aromatically challenged” amongst the wine snobs. If you can smell the sea, hot stones, or firecrackers, you are allowed to say that the wine is “mineral”. If you smell mushrooms or dirt, the wine should be described as “earthy”. If you cannot wrap your head around the aromatics, try describing the wine with a colour. Saying the nose feels lime-green, deep orange or pitch black will make your fellow tasters understand what your nose is trying to figure out.
3. Mouth – All the flavours of wine are in the nose but there must be a pleasant ‘mouth-feel’ to the wine in order to be great. Jelle suggests approaching the mouth aspect in two stages, the attack and the feel. The ‘attack’ is your first impression, pay attention to where you feel the wine touch first. Then ‘feel’ the wine for a balance and how it coats the inside of your mouth.
4. Finish – This is the holy grail of wine because not many achieve it. The finish unveils flavours you have not yet discovered. If the wine has a finish, it is of high quality.
Now it’s time to give your opinion. Here are some keywords to throw down:
Acidity – Makes the wine expressive in the nose and the mouth. It will also make your mouth feel very juicy. Too much acidity however can overpower the wine and your palate so you cannot taste what’s underneath.
Alcohol – Is the hot feeling in the back of your throat when tasting the wine.
Energy – “If you are really into the wine, but don’t know how to express your enthusiasm, energy is “the” word to use.
Tannins – Only applies to red wines; tannins dry out your mouth much like sucking on a bag of tea. Hard tannins are very unpleasant but soft tannins make a red wine boring. A good red wine has the perfect acidity-tannin balance so your mouth feels both juicy and dry simultaneously.
If you are interested in learning about wine, Jelle’s blog “Wine of the Week” is a must-read; or ask him a quick question via twitter @jellederoeck. Each week he discovers a new bottle and gives his impressions in order to show that wine isn’t an “old boy’s club”. He proves that everyone can enjoy wine like a pro with a bit of practice.