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The Wine Tasting Ritual

by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | July 09, 2011

Have you ever hesitated in joining a wine tasting tour or ordering a fine wine in a restaurant due to inexperience? Once you learn the standard ritual for wine tasting, you can handle the process anytime on your own with ease and confidence. The wine tasting ritual allows the taster to analyze the wine as thoroughly or as casually as the taster prefers. The ritual for wine tasting is broken down into four basic steps which include appearance or color, bouquet or aroma, taste and aftertaste.

Appearance

You can learn many things from the appearance of the wine. Like looking for the perfect diamond, you are looking at the clarity and the color of the wine. Having a white or light colored background helps in this process so that the true color of the wine is not distorted. If it is a red wine you are tasting and the color is pale, that may be a sign that the wine was made from unripened grapes. A red wine that is very dark in color is more likely to be robust with an intense flavor. A wine that is brownish in color may be old, begun to deteriorate or may have been improperly stored. As wine begins to age it breaks down, and all wines turn toward the brown hues. You are looking for a slight haze in the clarity of the wine but too much cloudiness may not be a good thing. Looking at the appearance of wine can gave you ideas about the wine itself, but the true test of wine is in the taste itself.

Bouquet or Aroma

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The smell of a wine will provide clues to the condition of the wine and the state of its development. Young or immature wines may emit little or no bouquet at all. Mature wines ready for drinking should display an aroma of fruit, suggesting the type of grapes from which the wine was made. You can sometimes smell the hint of oak or cedarwood, which comes from the barrels where the wine was aged. Older bottles of wine from vintages a decade or more in age may exude an aroma for only a few moments after the uncorking. This is why it is not wise to let older wines breathe too long before drinking them. The absence of a bouquet may detract from the tasting experience but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the wine has turned bad. One must taste the wine to determine the condition of it. Once the wine is poured into your glass you may want to swirl it around to release the wine’s natural aroma. Then simply breathe in the bouquet and explore your senses.

Taste

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This is the most subjective part of the tasting experience. Since everyone has their own flavor perceptions, they will react in their own way to the flavor of wine. Even when the experts agree, they often use different terms to describe their reactions. The reactions from the taste usually depend on the experience and sophistication of the wine taster. Because of the degree of subjectivity involved in the wine tasting ritual, no one can tell another person how a wine is supposed to taste. There are many adjectives used in describing wines, but their meaning to one person may be entirely different to another. Over time, and as sophistication grows, the wine taster begins to develop a wine vocabulary and learns how to recognize the signs of great wines. The most important point for the wine taster to remember is to follow their own instincts, and to decide for themselves what they prefer.

Aftertaste

Aftertaste or Finish is the residue of taste that is left in your mouth after you have swallowed. Some wines leave a long and lingering flavor sensation in your mouth, while others leave little or no aftertaste. If a wine leaves an unpleasant taste behind, it may be because the wine is high in acidity. This can also leave a bitter taste. The best wines tend to have a full, long and pleasing aftertaste which usually means the wine was made from ripe grapes.

Once you have completed the standard four step process in your wine tasting ritual, you are ready to give your impression of the wine in its entirety. You have used several of your basic senses for the process and the more times you partake in the wine tasting ritual, the more comfortable you will become with the process. Just remember to trust your own instincts and try many variations to expand your horizons.

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