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How to Taste Wine

How do we do an actual Wine Tasting?

This is simple, right? When you drink the wine you taste it. Actually there is more to it than that. There are several steps to ‘tasting’ wine if you want to get the full experience of the wine. If you do these things, you will not be disappointed (unless of course you are tasting a bad glass of wine).

There are many things that go into the wine tasting experience that many people might not even thing about. For example, you really should only taste wine in certain environments. If you are surrounded by a lot of different smells (like cooking smells or perfumes, etc.) the taste of your wine may be affected. Believe it or not, lighting can also have an affect on how you perceive the wine. So can noise and crowded spaces.

If you really want to taste a wine, you should make sure you are in a calm, quiet, clean, non-odorous environment. You also need to make sure your wine glass is clean and fresh. This all may seem a bit extreme, but it can make a difference.

Of course the temperature of the wine is a huge deal. You will have to consult with a professional to see what the recommended temperature is for your wine, but the taste is significantly affected. This is just something to keep in mind.

So the first part about the wine tasting experience is looking at the wine. This will be more meaningful after you have does a few tastings, but you can tell a lot about the color of your wine. Some red wines are very dark and some are much softer in color. You can anticipate the taste by looking at the color. Same goes for white wine. If the color is light, you might expect a lighter tasting wine, but if it is a darker yellow, you might expect some oak flavor.

After looking at your wine for a while, you should then swirl it around your glass. This allows it to open up and mix with the oxygen in the air. This can transform some of the flavors and aromas of the wine. It is important to let you wine breathe so that it can develop and offer you the best flavors.

After swirling for a bit, you will then proceed to smell the wine. You will put your nose into the glass as far as you are comfortable and take a nice breath in. You will want to sit with this experience for a while. Let your mind process the flavors. They can be good or bad, but you should really try to experience the smells. Try to detect what they are.

Of course your olfactory system is tied in with your taste buds. Meaning the smell affects the taste. Smelling the wine primes you for tasting it. Don’t skip this part, it is a very important part of the experience.

Now it is time to taste the wine! But you are not going to take a big gulp and swallow it right away. Instead, you need to sip just a little bit and try to let is sit in your mouth while the flavors move around.  After you swallow it, reflect on what you sense. Ask yourself, what are the flavors? Is this nice? Is it strong? Does it taste like anything else? And when you think you are done evaluating then evaluate some more. The flavors in the wine may change as the settle in your mouth.

At this point, you may even want to smell the wine again. Just take your time to really experience the wine. Your experience will be very different than if you just open the bottle and take a swig. Wine is meant to be an experience, an elegant experience. Enjoy it as it is meant to be.

 

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When To Drink Your Open Wine

I love that joke that goes something like – ‘I overheard someone talking about cooking with left over wine. I was confused. What is left over wine?’

If this is you then maybe you don’t need this post, but if you ever have occasion to have some white or red wine left over then you might want to continue reading.

The question always is, how long will my wine last after it has been opened? The answer to this question will depend upon the kind of wine we are talking about and how you plan on storing it.

For the most part, red wines can last a bit longer than white wines. This is because of their tannins. The reason we have to let our red wine breathe is because of the tannins. Tannins will help prevent oxidation of wine. This is helpful in keeping wine, but not the easiest to work with when trying to open your wine up.  However, the more a wine is exposed to oxygen the worse off it gets. They have as love/ hate relationship. They love each other at first, but then too much time together will spoil everything.

No matter what, you should always use a stopper for the wine. It is just fine to use the cork that came with it if you can. You should also put both reds and whites back in the wine cooler. The cooler temperature helps slow the oxidation.

Back to red wine – the lighter the wine, the faster it will go bad (darker wine has more tannins). So you are looking at about 3 days. For the darker wines (Pinot Noir or Beaujolais) can last for 3-5 days.

How about white wine? A full bodied wine (like a Chardonnay) will likely last a bit longer that lighter wines. Generally speaking thought, whites will last for about 3 days. Again, provided you have a stopper for them and they are in the wine cooler.

Does this mean that Sparkling Wine or Champagne can last for 3 days too? No way! Your really should drink Champagne immediately.  This is not something to have 1 glass of and then be done with it. If you have a stopper, it may be okay for 24 hours, but it will not be the same.

All in all, it is best to stick with the mentality of ‘what is left over wine?’.

Save Cash on Wine when Eating Out

Who doesn’t love to save some extra dough on a nice bottle of wine when they are at a fancy restaurant? Of course you do.

Have you ever heard of a bin end list? Many nicer restaurants and wine shops have them. They are a way to get a potentially nice bottle of wine at a nice discount.Save money on wine

If you are at a nicer restaurant (probably a restaurant who has a sommelier) you might want to ask if they have a bin end list. You can save some cash on wine. If you are at a store and know you are shopping for a wine to drink soon, then you might want to ask if they have a bin end list.

Want to become a sommelier? Check out how to do so here.

Some people have the wrong idea about bin end lists. They think they are the bottom of the barrel or old and expired wine. This is not the case.

Generally speaking, the wines that are on a bin end list are wines that the wine carrier or restaurant want to sell out of. It is usually because they are expecting a new vintage to come in and when that happens, the old vintage will just sit and eventually go bad which is of course a shame.

They could also be a wine that just didn’t sell well. This does not however mean that the wine is not good. It could just mean that for whatever reason that wine varietal did not sell well at a particular store or restaurant location.

A restaurant or wine shop is not going to sell you bad wine (knowingly). They risk losing your business and the potential of you telling other people that they have bad wine.

The point is that you shouldn’t think that asking for a bin end list is low class or cheap. Yes it is a way to save some money, but it is also a way to have some wine that you are probably not going to be able to get again.

Wine Varietals

Let’s Learn About Wine!

We are going to review Wine Varietals. We are going to do one a week. That way as you learn about a varietal, you can try it too.

Here are just a few of the Varietals that we are going to discuss. Next week we will start with the 1st one on the list – Barbera. You can get a head start and try some if you like. That way you will be able to identify what we are talking about when we review it.

BarberaWine Varietals
Cabernet Sauvignon
Champagen/ Sparkling Wine
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Dolcetto
Fume Blanc
Gewurztraminer
Merlot
Mourvedre
Petite Sirah
Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
Pinot Noir
Riesling
Roses
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc
Syrah (Shiraz)
Viognier
Zinfandel

Wine Lingo

Ever wonder about the words that experienced wine tasters use to describe the wine they are tasting? What are they talking about? It’s like a private language. Well just like any field or specialty, they have their own jargon. It just takes a little bit of getting used to and a little practice.

Wine terminologyWe have defined some common words they use to describe wine and what they mean. You should use some at your next party to impress your friends.

Here are some basics.

Aroma

It is certainly not complicated to figure out what this one is. It is a popular word however to use when tasting wine. In fact, smelling wine is one of the biggest part of the whole wine tasting and enjoying experience. Some drinkers smell their wine for quite a while before tasting it since it is a different experience all together. A wine is called aromatic if the smells are strong.

Balanced

A balanced glass of wine does not mean that you can balance it in your hand or on the table. There are specific aspects to wine: sweetness, tannins, alcohol and acidity. When you can’t pick out any one of these then your wine is considered balanced. That is, all 4 of these elements blend together nicely. A balance wine is much preferred.

Bouquet

Some people may know what this is. Just like a bouquet of followers the bouquet of wine has to do with its aroma. As mentioned above, the smell of a wine is a very large experience of the wine. You will find many wines have many flavors and as you smell them, you notice more flavors and layers to the wine. Once you become more trained and experienced at wine tasting and you really pay attention, you might be surprised with the things you pick up.

Finish

A wine can have a long or short finish and this has to do with the experience of the wine after you have swallowed it. You can think of it as what lingers and oftentimes it may have a different taste. It has nothing to do with drinking all of your wine.

Tannins

You may have heard of wine tannins. But what are they? Mostly from red wines, it is the substance that comes from the skin of the grape, the seeds and the stems. Tannins are necessary to preserve and develop a wine. Too man tannins in a wine however can be rough to drink. It sounds kind of strange to have solid substances in your glass of wine, but it makes perfect sense if you think about the fact that your wine is truly make of grapes.

There are so many more terms to know and learn, but these are some big ones and will get you started and sounding like a professional!

 

 

Popular Whites

What are the most popular white wines? There are many, too many to go into detail about. But if you would like a list of some major players that you might see on any wine list then here you go.

First and foremost, you will likely find a Chardonnay on any wine list you look at. This wine is likely to be dry and bolder than many other white wines.

Most Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels which can give them a butter like flavor. There are however Chardonnays that are not aged in oak that are more fruit flavored. These are a little rarer, but you can find them on occasion.

Another very popular white wine is Pinot Grigio. This grape is actually a mutation from the Pinot grape used to make Pinot Noir. It is the probably the most popular wine produced in Italy. It is a crisp, dry wine.

Similar to a Pinot Grigio is a Sauvignon Blanc. It is also lighter than a Chardonnay, but still a dry white wine.

On the sweeter side of things you have a 2 wines that originated in Germany: Riesling and Gewurztrminer. You may have never heard of the latter. It has a very different and distinct taste. If you want to try it, you might want to ask for a sample first before you commit to a whole glass or bottle. This is not to say that it is not good, on the contrary. It is merely saying that it is a different taste.

You may also find a Viognier on a wine list although not all wine lists. This grape is from France and is a bit rare. If you have a chance to try this wine, you really should. It is a dry wine with fruit flavors like peach, apple, and apricot.

Anything else on a wine list, you might want to ask about or ask for a sample. If you are at a nice place, the servers have usually sampled all of the wines so they can help customers make decisions. If you are at a very nice place then you may encounter a wine steward, which is always a treat.

 

 

 

 

Storage Options For Your Wine

If you have an sort of wine collection, you need to think about how to store it.

There are several options available for wine storage, but one of those options does not include simply putting it on a rack in your living room. There are spaces and appliances made to store wine in the way that it is supposed to be stored. It is vital to keep wine at certain temperatures. This will help save your wine.

The kind of storage you need for your wine will depend upon what kind of wine consumer you are. If WIneyou are a serious wine collector and prefer to age your wine or keep it for years before drinking, then you will need a wine cellar.

Wine cellars are made for more long term storage. That is not to say that anyone shouldn’t have a wine cellar, if fact it is ideal to store wine in this type of environment. The temperatures are around 50-60º F with controlled humidity.

Wine cellars can become rather costly however. Therefore that casual collector may do better with a wine cooler. Wine coolers are designed to keep your wine at ideal drinking temperatures. Whereas wine cellars are often a slightly different temperature.

It is also important to make sure that you protect your wine from harsh lighting. For example storing your wine within direct sunlight will ruin the wine. Wine coolers in wine cellars prevent this from happening.

Wine racks can also serve as short-term wine storage. There are many different kinds of wine racks available nowadays. It should be easy to find a stylish wine rack so that you can show off your wine.

Everyone has different ideas when it comes to wine storage. Many people will want to have an appliance in their kitchen, while others will want a wine cooler in their living room to show off their wine more prominently.

When storing your wine, make sure to always store it horizontally and not vertically. Storing wine on its side allows the wine to have contact with the wine cork. And this will prevent the wine cork from drying out in ruining your wine.

So a wine cellar is for someone who has a lot of wine and wants to keep it for long periods of time.

A lot more households have wine coolers today. They understand the importance of storing wine at ideal temperatures. The price of these wine coolers varies and anyone should be able to find one in their price range.

As wine consumption increases around the world, wine storage options also continues to increase.

How Does Your Wine Rate

You are out to dinner and you want to impress others with some of your wine knowledge. Except you don’t have any. Well here are some things to get you started and sounding like a professional!

There are indeed many, many terms that wine experts use when reviewing wine. It can be a little confusing if you have not clue as to what you are talking about. There must be some baby steps that we can take to try and understand the wonderful world of wine (and impress our friends). What are some of the things to look for in a fine wine?

Studying some key elements will be a great start. There is no need to know everything about wine. Unless that is your business. There are a couple in particular however that you might want to pay attention to.

A high quality wine will be labeled as balanced.

What exactly does it mean to be well balanced?

Whenever a wine is balanced then the level of acidity, sweet taste, tannins, in addition to alcohol combine with one another beautifully. This will mean that you should not be able to pick out and identify any one of these items. Anytime you have some bottle of wine and you taste that it is exceedingly sweet or maybe it has a powerful acidity, then it is definitely not thought of as well balanced. When your wine is not really well-balanced, the flavour is not as great and this of course means that the value and quality is actually significantly less.

The quality of complexity is a thing some wine consultants try to look for in drinking wine.

Possibly you have tried a glass of wine and you might pick up a variety of tastes and even aromas? Such as, a glass of wine could have a strawberry flavor and then a raspberry flavor. Provided you can find a large number of flavours at the time you encounter the wine, then your wine is regarded as complex. Wines that offer a variety of flavors as it goes through your mouth is much desired. This is what is called a complex wine and that wine would be considered to be a premium wine.

The finish of a wine and the typicity are additional things that wine drinkers look for in a quality glass of wine. And there happen to be quite a few more. When you understand the balance as well as complexity, you’ll be able to move on to distinguishing many other details.

Check out this nice video discussing wine complexity:

Wine Shape and Wine Quantity

If you are at a party and you can choose between a tall and narrow wine glass or a wider (fatter) wine glass, which do you choose? (And don’t think about the kind of wine you are going to have, just think about which you prefer).

If you picked the wider glass, you will get more wine in your glass than if you picked the narrow glass. Want to change your selection?

It is true that the actual shape of your wine glass will alter the amount of wine that get poured into your glass. 

The reason for this is that we seem to have a problem with perceiving volume accurately. We can’t tell that a wider glass has the same amount of wine as a taller glass because of the difference in shape. We pour more wine into the wider glass because we think it is not getting the same amount as the taller glass. So we seem to focus more on the height of the wine in the glass and not the width. 

So if you are at that party and you want more wine in your glass, just pick the widest one available. 

Wine cellars and coolers

Wine Storing

A lot of people are usually surprised to learn that different wine should be served at varying temperatures. They think that this might only apply to those who taste wine professionally. The fact is, though that there is a real difference that one can taste.

The actual temperature from your red or white wine affects the flavor. What happens when we drink wine that is much colder than it should be is that the taste and flavor become muted and flat. The wine drinker is truly missing out on a great experience.

Don’t feel bad if you find that you are not caring for your wine properly. Wine storage is simply not something that every person does right which is an oversight.

In fact, many people are not even aware that there are refrigerators for wine or wine coolers that keep the bottles at recommended temperature conditions.
Now if you want to keep your wine for a long time, this is something different. ‘A wine cellar may be what you want if you keep wines for long periods. They keep the wines at a temperature that is more suitable for storage (around 50º) which is different from consumption temperatures.

Just remember, if you maintain your wine bottles at way too high of a temperature (room temps for instance), you chance losing the genuine flavor (which is why you bought the wine in the first place). Also, if you keep it too chilly, it will also get ruined.

So what are the recommended temperatures for reds and whites?

Keep in mind that these are general and you will want to find the specific temperature for your specific wine. That is, if you really want to get all of the flavors the wine has to offer.

Whites: 40-52º

Reds: 50-64º

(both fahrenheit of course)