The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting
Wine is one of those beverages that never ceases to impress. People make wine in over seventy countries, with hundreds of grapes in dozens of styles. To say all wines taste different is an understatement. However, it is in wine diversity where you’ll find the most pleasure, and that’s where wine tasting comes in. Here’s how to taste wine like a professional using the 5 S’s method. Pour yourself a glass of wine and get ready to hone your wine tasting skills!
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Inspecting wine visually is not as important as sticking your nose into the wine glass or sipping that delicious fermented grape juice. Nevertheless, the wine’s color, opacity, and consistency (as seen on the tears or legs running down the wine glass) can give clues about its personality.
Red wine’s color changes with time, from purple or ruby to crimson and eventually brown, and white wine also darkens as the years go by. This means that the wine’s color might give you an idea of its age. This is also an excellent opportunity to spot murky or cloudy wine, which might indicate something is wrong.
Swirling wine is the most exciting part of wine tasting, and it’s because its aromatic compounds, volatile molecules dissolved in the liquid, vaporize, filling your glass and sometimes your home with the loveliest scents.
Although sniffing the wine at least once before swirling is ideal, especially if you want to pick up its faintest scents, swirling is essential for the next step of the wine tasting process. Swirl away and ensure the wine wakes up to show its best.
Our nose can detect thousands, if not millions, of aromas, whether we distinguish them or not. Wine displays dozens of scents—some are fruity or earthy, some are spicy, and others are downright animal or vegetal. Together, these scents are the wine’s bouquet, which is why so many people enjoy wine worldwide.
All wines taste (and smell) differently depending on the grape or grapes used to make them and the winemaking techniques employed. Even the wine’s age changes how it smells, making this part of the wine-tasting process the most interesting. Sniffing wine is like going on a safari—you never know what to expect.
Take a sip. You’ve earned it. Assessing the palate is as important as evaluating the wine’s nose. Only in the mouth can one assess the wine’s acidity, tannins (roughness in reds), mouthfeel, alcoholic warmth, and length.
You can also detect the wine’s aromas retro nasally, an opportunity to confirm what you picked up on the nose and find new aromas. Take a couple of sips to determine the wine’s taste, including its tartness and roughness, but you also want to take your time to appreciate its aftertaste.
It is precisely after you swallow that you get the complete picture and savor the wine in full glory. This is the time to write down your impressions. Take notes and determine the wine’s quality and condition. You can also picture what food pairs well with the wine and what occasions are best suited for the style.
Most importantly, ask yourself if you like the wine. After all, we all like different things, and finding the wine styles you enjoy is part of the wine-tasting experience.
How To Taste Wine and Get Better At It
No one is born a proficient wine taster. Like all skills, you can get better at it. Tasting, of course, is different from drinking, so take your time and assess as many wines as you can. You’ll soon pick up exciting flavors and aromas and become better at choosing wine for the right menu and occasion. Like studying any topic, wine tasting takes time and patience, but this is the type of studying we’re sure you’ll enjoy.