Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How To Taste New Wines: Pt. 4 Tastings

In part 3 we discussed how and why to taste wine.  How: 3’s, swish, smell & sip.  Why: because we want to discover new tastes in wine. 

Now the question is where do we go to apply our newfound knowledge?  The answer is simple: Tastings

What is a Tasting?: An event that allows the consumer to taste a number of different wines at their choosing for a nominal fee.  Tastings are inexpensive ways to socialize and taste wines from your local region and/or abroad.  They are usually conducted daily at wineries.  One can find them as weekly and/or monthly hosted events at your favorite restaurant, lounge or Wine Store.  They are sometimes paired with other events like live music, gourmet foods and cheeses.  Normally they are advertised and if not, ask.

Tools for Tasting: wine, glasses, water, spit or dump bucket, rating sheet or journal, pen or pencil

            All items with the exception of the journal will be provided to you.  The expert may have some of these items like their own tasting glasses.  This is not a necessity nor should you be impressed.  That just may be their thing, and that’s okay.  If you prefer to carry your own glass, keep it to a simple all purpose wine GLASS.  I emphasize glass, not crystal or anything fancy.  You are tasting and you don’t want anything to get in the way of the wine.  Crystal can actually block the flavor.  Some wineries will give you the glass as a souvenir (usually for an extra fee), sometimes I get it, other times I don’t.  It depends on my mood and whether my husband has broken a few and I need to replenish my stock.

I interrupt this program for an important announcement!  Recommendation: If you are tasting wine(s) and/or traveling from one winery to another make sure you have eaten something satisfying prior to tasting.  One of the biggest mistakes one makes is to taste on an empty stomach.  Eat Something! Eat, especially if you are not sure if food will be available.  And if you are driving, engage or employ a designated driver! Now back to tasting…

If you are at a winery, the rating sheet listing each wine is usually in the best order recommended by the winery to maximize or give the consumer the best experience.  So look over the sheet and decide which wines you’d like to taste.  If you’re not sure speak to the Winetender for some ideas.  Remember we are informed about what we like; the more info we give, the better info we get (see pt.2).  After you’ve checked off the wines of your interest let the pouring and tasting begin.  See More for Tips!

Tasting Tips: 

  1. Apply your 3 S’s
  2. Record your thoughts on the checklist.  I like or not and why.  If you are at a wine tasting event with no specific order in mind, just make sure you record after each taste. 
  3. If you don’t want to finish the wine left in your glass or mouth, dump it into the wine/spit bucket (seems uncouth to spit but swallowing is not required—get your mind out of the gutter!)
  4. Cleanse your glass.  Pour water into your glass, swish it and pour that water into the bucket to get ready for the next taste. 
  5. Cleanse your palate with a drink of water or even a dry, unflavored cracker.  Water is best although some will say a lemon sorbet is acceptable.  Anything other than water has a taste and can interfere with your taste buds including a dry cracker. A cracker contains salt and can alter the truth of the grape.  I had a friend brush her teeth prior to drinking a very expensive usually pleasurable champagne.  She thought it was awful and contended that the champagne had a peppermint aftertaste….uh yeah!
  6. Before and after each taste and pour, think about it, talk about it, socialize about it.  Remember it is an experience.
  7. Finally just have fun!  And if you want the experience to continue, take a bottle home with you.  If you didn't taste a thing to tickle your fancy, think about it like this: you’ve probably just spent anywhere from 8-15dollars to add 6-8 new wines to your database.  The fun is also in the practice...Cheers!

A number of wineries, associations sponsor Tasting Tours.  For a day, you travel on a bus from one area winery to the next.  You don’t have to worry about driving and meals can be included in the package.  Also a number of wineries have Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and suites attached.  You can make weekend getaways and experiences out of tasting wine…Until Next Time...Cheers!

Up next… You like what you like, Wineries featured from around the country, We found wineries in some of your most unexpected places! And More!

*All photos featured in this post are courtesy of

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