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Friday April 25, 2008 - Total Wine

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Wine Tasting - Is It Really An Art?

In the last of our series on wines we're going to discuss an area that quite frankly few people know anything about.

Wine tasting.

Most people would probably think, what is there to tasting a wine? You take a sip, swish it around in your mouth and then swallow. Tastes either good or bad. Right?

Well, not exactly. There is actually an art to wine tasting and in this article we're going to cover the basics of just how to taste wine and determine just how good or bad it is.

Let's start with exactly why we do swish the wine around in our mouth when we taste it. At first it was thought that the reason we do this is because we thought that different areas of the tongue detected different flavors. Actually, this is not the case.

The front and back of the tongue have taste buds, but they don't specialize in a particular taste sensation. All taste buds can detect sour, sweet, bitter and salty flavors. In order to get the most out of your taste buds you swish the wine in your mouth so that all your taste buds, including your sense of smell, get involved in the detection of the finer flavors of the wine.

What a lot of people also don't realize is that much of what we taste is actually because of our sense of smell. Think about it. How good does your food taste to you when you eat while having a bad cold? Many times you can hardly taste anything at all. Medical science has actually determined that 75% of what we taste if because of our sense of smell.

Wine tasting itself is an art and while a lot of it is subjective wine tasters do follow some general rules or guidelines when judging how good a wine actually is. Learning these techniques is very easy and if you already like wine then that makes it even easier.

There are 3 steps in wine tasting

1. Look. They say you can tell a lot about a wine just by the way it looks. To look at a wine you should pour it into a clear glass in front of white background like a tablecloth, napkin or piece of paper. This makes it easy to examine the color. As for the color itself, white wines are actually green, yellow or brown. The more color usually indicates more flavor. Red wines are not just red. They can be pale red to deep brown. While a red wine improves with age the opposite is true for white wines.

2. Smell. Smell the wine. You do this in two steps. First you take a quick whiff to get a general idea of the smell and then take one very deep whiff. This will give you a better idea of the smell. After doing this wine tasters sit back and think about the smell for a long while before actually tasting it.

3. Taste. Finally, taste the wine. To do this you take a small sip and swish the wine around in your mouth. You then think about the taste. Is it light or rich or smooth or harsh. And then after the initial taste there is the aftertaste. How long did it last? Was it pleasant or was it a bitter aftertaste?

After the above steps many wine tasters assign a point score to each step. This ultimately is how they evaluate the wine and determine if it is a quality wine. Expert tasters say the more you do this the better you get at it.

About the Author

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Wine

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