Identifying the taste a wine is the most important stage of a wine tasting (otherwise it might be called a wine smelling, or a wine looking). Before you start, you may wish to decide if you’re going to be spitting the wine out once you’ve tasted it, or if you’d prefer to swallow a mouthful. Generally, professional wine tasters spit because they may have dozens of wines to get through, but if you’re attending a social event people will probably drink. If you’re unsure, just take your cue from those around you!
Take a sip of the wine and try and draw a little air in at the same time, as this ensures you get a full sense of taste (this is why the professionals slurp their wine). Move the wine around your mouth, allowing it to come into contact with all of your taste buds so you can appreciate the different types of taste. You’ll notice that the taste changes as it swills around your mouth, beginning with the forepalate, followed by the mid and endpalate, and finally the finish, which describes the aftertaste after the wine has left your mouth.
Obviously one of the most important factors concerning the taste of a wine is its flavour, and the process here is similar to identifying the nose of the wine as detailed in part three. Think about the different flavours you can clearly taste, and try to uncover any subtle undertones. How do these change as the wine stays in your mouth? Can you taste the same fruits or flowers you previously smelled, or are there differences?
Wine tasters also describe the texture of a wine, which covers the acidity, alcohol content, and presence of tannins. Acidity is important because makes wines refreshing and stops them being too sweet, and it is best detected on the sides of the tongue. Alcohol content is quite simple to define because it has a direct impact on the taste – generally speaking, low alcohol wines will taste sweeter. Tannin is usually identifiable in all wines due to its presence in grape skins. It’s quite bitter, and can therefore be detected at the back of the tongue, but the gums are better at identifying the astringency caused by the tannins – this is what causes your mouth to feel dry.
How long the finish lasts is referred to as ‘length’, and often relates to the body of the wine. Body is described as light, medium or full-bodied – it’s a good idea to compare the body to the three main types of milk: a light-bodied wine has a watery consistency, similar to skimmed milk, whereas medium-bodied wines are a touch thicker, like semi-skimmed, and full-bodied wines are closer to full fat milk or single cream.
If you’re interested in organising a wine tasting for friends, family or colleagues, we’d love to help. Our sessions are relaxed and enjoyable, and we’re happy to bring the tasting to you! Please get in touch if you’re interesting in arranging a session – we’re always happy to oblige!