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This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Monday, 21 June 2010

How to (finally!) taste wine

This is Part Three of a Three Part series on how to taste wine. There are three elements to tasting wine: seeing, smelling and tasting. Counterintuitive but true. Today I’m finally going to address what happens when wine is in your mouth.

Take a swig and swish.

Five main things we’re looking for:

1. Tannins. Tannins come from the grape skins or barrels that wines are fermented or aged in. You can assess how tannic a wine is by how it dries your mouth. Think of that sensation you get when you leave your tea bag in tea for too long – that is too much tannin.

2. Acidity. Acidity sounds bad. Interpret it as “freshness”. You can assess the acidity in a wine by how your mouth waters. Now you start to build a picture: a balanced wine is one where the refreshing acidity of the wine balances the drying tannins in a wine.

3. Alcohol. In a good wine, you shouldn’t taste or smell alcohol. The flavour and aroma molecules in the wine should be more prevalent than the alcohol molecules. A wine that is too alcoholic can be detected by that burning feeling at the entrance to your throat.

4. Sweetness & bitterness both take a little more practice to detect. Your best guide is that if you feel you detect too much of either: it’s probably not a great wine.

5. Length. Length is one of the most reliable indicators of a quality wine. How long does the taste of the wine stay in your mouth? The longer the better.

Image: this time last year I was tasting wine with Alain Chabanon at his domaine in Languedoc. We’re stocking his rose this Spring – it’s a real winner!

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