Beverages

Principles of Tasting Wine

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There are five principal elements to look for in the taste of wine. Learn to concentrate on each one individually while tasting, and you will start to put together a set of analytical tools with which to evaluate the quality of any wine.

  • Dryness/Sweetness – From bone-dry Chablis at one end of the spectrum to the most luscious Liqueur Muscats at the other, the amount of natural sugar present in a wine contains is perhaps its most easily noted attribute.
  • Acidity – There are many different types of acid in the wine, the most important being tartaric, which is present in unfermented grape juice. Don’t confuse dryness of a wine with it’s acidity. A very dry wine like fino Sherry can actually be quite low in acid, while the sweetest Sauternes will contain sufficient acidity to offset it’s sugar.
  • Tannin – Tannin is present in the stalks and pips (seeds) of fresh grapes, but also in the skin. In the mouth, it gives that furry, dry feeling that makes very hard to drink, but it disappears gradually as they mature in the bottle.
  • Oak – Many wines are matured in oak barrels, and may even have gone through their initial fermentation in Oak, and the flavour imparted to them by contact with the wood is an easy one to appreciate, particularly in the case of white wines.The presence of of oak, as is an overall feeling of creamy smoothness on the palate in the case of richer reds. Oak helps in maturation and develop a woody flavour in wine.
  • Fruit – Wine can be described as tasting of raspberries, passion fruit, melon and cherries. Let your imagination run free when tasting. Bright fruit flavours are among the most charming features a wine can process.