A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting, by Karen Triggiani
About the Author: Karen Triggiani built her career in healthcare market consulting on a unique expertise and insight into the nuances of contemporary healthcare. Triggiani has applied this deep focus and knack for subtlety in her various personal activities, including travel, antiquing, and wine tasting, the latter of which is the subject of this entry.
To the untrained eye, the wine tasting process may appear pretentious, intimidating, or downright silly. While pretension may be in the eye of the beholder, appreciating a fine bottle of wine is actually a straightforward and fairly uncomplicated process which relies on your senses and the knowledge of some basic principles.
The first step in tasting and evaluating a wine is to simply look at it. Preferably using a white surface as a background, look for variations in hue and opacity and the presence of sediment. With practice, you will learn to tell much about a wine just from its appearance. For example, white wines tend to darken with age, and older red wines often contain more orange coloration at the edges.
After swirling your glass for about ten seconds to release inherent aromas, take a modest sniff of the wine. After forming an initial opinion, stick your nose into the glass and take a steady, strong breath, evaluating the subtleties of the bouquet. Now taste the wine in a similar fashion, first by taking a quick sip, and then by swallowing a substantial mouthful of approximately 10 milliliters.
As always, practice makes perfect. The development of a finely-tuned palate takes time and deliberate effort, but the reward is an informed and appreciation of one of the world’s oldest pleasures. Neither sight, nor smell, nor taste alone proves as important as the combination of the three and how they contribute to a holistic appreciation of any given bottle.