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Wine Tasting Component II: Smell
The second wine tasting component is smelling and inhaling wine’s aroma. Concentrate as much as you can and smell wine, swirl glass, and smell once again. The stronger aromas, stronger impression. Most of wines, especially more delicate and older ones develop their aromas only after “being walked around” glass. There is no consensus as to exact technique of whiffing. Some say do two or three quick whiffs, others prefer one single deep whiff.
The goal of whiffing is to inhale aroma as deeply as possible so that it gets into contact with our sensory nerve and hence, with part of brain that is responsible for registering, storing, and deciphering sensations. The spot where that takes place is extremely sensitive: a cold or an allergy might completely block even most intense aromas. With enough practice and concentration, you’ll learn how to extract maximum from different aromas and how to interpret them.
The vivid connoisseurs love to concoct different aromas. “Dark chocolate!” says one. “No, that’s more like pepper,” claims another. “Tea leaves, tobacco, and mushrooms,” adds third. Are they joking??
Probably we don’t quite realize it but nowadays we are exposed to so many different smells that we find it difficult to find words to describe all complex aromas that a glass of wine can offer. Like color, a wine’s aroma can tell us a lot about its character, origin, and its history. Since our sense of taste is limited to only 4 categories (sweet, sour, bitter, and salt), wine’s aroma is most informative part of our sensory experience. So take your time, sit back and contemplate aroma! Like perfume of a loved one or smell of freshly baked bread, a wine’s aroma can evoke memories of times and places that we cherish.
Wine Tasting Component III: Taste
This is best part of wine-tasting. You might be enchanted by wine’s sparkling color or mesmerized by its aroma but it’s actually drinking wine that whole thing is about. Maybe you are thinking that drinking is easiest part – after all we start drinking from a glass from a very young age and we keep practicing for a lifetime. However, there’s a real difference between just swallowing liquid and conscious tasting. Here, just like in all good things in life, difference is in right technique. The appropriate technique can make sure we get best out of whole experience.
1. Still under influence of aromas you’ve inhaled in step II, take a sip of wine. Don’t make it too big or too small. You need just enough to walk wine in your mouth and not have to swallow it just yet. Let wine uncover its secrets. For reference, you may keep good wine in your mouth for 10 – 15 seconds, sometimes even more.
2. Walk wine very well in your mouth, ensuring it touches each part of it. This is important because our tongue, palate, inside of mouth and our throat each detect different aspects of wine.
For many years, it was believed that tongue has different areas each of which is sensitive to a particular taste – sweet for tip of tongue, sour for sides, bitter for back and salty for whole tongue. Today we know that all tastes can be felt with whole tongue, only there’s a “blind” spot in middle of it which is not sensitive to any taste. Another important step in wine tasting is being able to tell one’s impressions of wine. “Astringent”, “elegant”, “fruity”, “flat”, “young” are only a few words of wine vocabulary you’ll need to amass.
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