The world of wine can be intimidating for those who are new to the scene. Its vast history – full of unfamiliar chateau names, extensive varietals, and misunderstood terms – can make learning the basics seem like an endless journey. This Pocket Sized Essential Wine Tasting Guide gives newcomers the tools they need to find their feet in the wine culture.
Whether you are new to wine or just want to brush up on your knowledge, there are some basics you should know. These can help you to be a more knowledgeable and informed drinker or bartender. Wine tasting is a sensory examination and evaluation of a variety of wines. Smell and taste are the two main components of wine tasting, so learning to properly identify aromas and flavors is important. Smell is the most common sense used in wine tasting, and a key part of mastering this skill is to smell the wine before you pour it into your glass. The aroma of a wine can tell you a lot about the varietal, growing region, and aging techniques. Some of the most common aromas found in a wine include fruit, floral, or herbal notes. Some of these can be attributed to the grape varieties, and other scents are derived from the fermentation process or oak treatment. When smelling a wine, start by tilting the glass and bring it up to your nose. Then, focus on the scents in your glass and think about what you are smelling. The aromas in a wine can tell you a lot of information about the varietal, growing region, aging techniques, and even the oak treatment that was used for the wine. Some people describe a wine's aroma as "oaky," while others might say it reminds them of “shop class.” Aside from identifying the aromas in a wine, the next most important component of wine tasting is observing how it tastes and how the aromas interact with your tongue. Some of the most common wine tastes include sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. For example, a wine that is too sour can make you spit it out and it could also cause your mouth to water or wince as you swallow it. On the other hand, a wine that is too sweet will leave you with an unpleasant aftertaste or a flat taste in your mouth. A few other things to note when tasting a wine are the color and opacity of the wine. A lighter wine will be clear while a heavier one will be deeper in color and more dense on the nose. Swirling a glass a couple times will also give you an idea of how the wine tastes.
There are many different varietals of wine, each offering its own unique taste, aroma and texture. Knowing a little bit about these varieties can help you decide which wines to try, and how they might pair with a meal. One of the best ways to find out what a grape variety offers is to take a tasting tour. There are many wineries across the country that offer tastings of various varietals at a small cost. A typical wine tasting includes five 2 ounce pours of different varietals. If you're able to thoroughly swirl, sniff and evaluate each of these pours, you'll be well on your way to discovering which wines you like and those you don't. Varietals are the main component of any wine and they are usually made from a single grape variety or a blend of several. Some of the more famous varietals include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other popular varietals are Merlot, Zinfandel and Malbec. These grapes are known for their dark fruit flavors, and oak barrel aging gives them cedar and chocolate notes as well. Some of the more specialized varieties are even referred to as "champagnes." This is because they have a high alcohol content (around 14%) and can be made in large quantities, making them perfect for entertaining. In addition to the most popular varietals, you'll find some lesser-known wines worth trying. These can be produced from any number of grapes, from red to white to sweet. The best wines are those that showcase the qualities of a particular grape and their unique traits. This is especially true of red varietals, which tend to offer the most diverse array of flavors and textures.
As a general rule, the wine tasting process is best left to the experts. That said, it is possible to become a novice wine connoisseur with a little planning and a fair amount of practice. This pocket sized guide provides you with the tools to help you on your path to wine nirvana. Whether you’re new to the world of vino or a seasoned pro, this is the book that will give you the confidence to try something you may have overlooked. The content is organized by tiers and features the top wines from across the wine world. The best part is that it is also a lot of fun!
One of the best ways to enjoy wine is with food. Whether it is a light meal or a hearty meal, pairing wine with the right dish can elevate both your experience and your taste buds. There are a wide range of flavors and aromas that can pair with wine. A simple guideline is to look for foods that are rich in aromas and have a strong flavor profile. For example, a fish with lemon or mushrooms that have strong, earthy aromas will go well with a white wine that is infused with citrus or fruity aromas. Another important rule is to match the most prominent flavor in a dish with the wine. This is often the sauce, seasonings or cooking method that dominates a dish. A chicken marsala, for example, paired with a mushroom sauce will require a red wine while a grilled chicken with a creamy lemon sauce is an excellent choice for a white. A wine with a strong fruity flavor will also work well with foods that have a smoky or earthy taste. For instance, a Cabernet Sauvignon will complement a smoked meat like duck confit. Similarly, a smoky or peppery wine is a great match for dishes that have a spice or savory flavor. For example, a peppery Syrah or Nebbiolo will go well with wild mushrooms that have a spicy or smoky flavor. Tannins are a key factor in determining how wine will pair with different food flavors. Fatty and salty foods will diminish the tannins in a highly tannic wine, while spicy and sweet foods will add to the tannins and make the wine seem harsh. Alcohol is another flavor that can impact a wine's taste profile. It is found in many wines and can help soften the tannins of a red wine and enhance the taste of fat within a steak. Generally speaking, wines with high levels of alcohol will pair well with fatty foods and those with low levels of alcohol will go well with sweet foods. Keeping the above rules in mind will ensure that you are getting the most out of your wine experience and enhancing the enjoyment of the dishes that you serve with it. There are a wide range of wines that will go with a variety of food styles and tastes, so it's up to you to find the perfect pairing for each meal.