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After your initial visual impressions, swirl wine in your glass. While this may be tricky at first, you will pick it up quickly. This reveals "legs". The more wine sticks to side of a glass, higher alcohol content.
The Role of Sense of Smell During Wine Tasting
As mentioned earlier, many of subtle "tastes" of wine are actually perceived by your sense of smell. While there are only four perceptible tastes, there are thousands of different scents. Revealingly, sinus congestion will stop even most experienced and accomplished wine taster in his/her tracks. Smell is perceived through upper nose as well as through back of throat. Molecules of different scents are registed by olfactory bulb in sinuses.
Before smelling a wine, swirl glass again to reveal aroma. When smelling a wine, attempt to put any familiar aromas into context of previous tastings. This is fundamental basis for increasing your knowledge of tasting wine.
After smelling wine, majority of registered perceptions occur very quickly. Sense of smell is very delicate and easily overwhelmed. Smelling same thing repeatedly becomes less and less revelatory in rapid succession. If you do not immediately pick out array of aromas in a wine, relax for a minute or two, then try again.
The Actual Tasting Begins
After experiencing aroma of a wine, it is logically time to taste. Swirl wine once more, and then swallow a small sip. After your initial impression, take a slightly larger sip and make an effort to coat your entire mouth. This is called, "chewing" wine. Before swallowing, aerate wine in your mouth. While this makes a slightly strange sound, enhanced flavors and aromas that are released are more than worth it.
Another important component in tasting process is touch, or how wine feels in your mouth. Major variables to be aware of are body of wine, serving temperature, and astringency. The body of a wine includes depth of flavor and alcohol content. If these components are underrepresented, a wine will taste dilluted.
Serving temperature is an important variable that mainly hinges on varietal(s) that compose a particular wine. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc will taste flat at room temperature, and should be chilled. On contrary, a well-aged Cabernet Sauvignon will not reveal its true complexity when served too cold. The incorrect serving temperature for a wine will adversely affect both aroma and flavor.
Astringency is basically a synonym for bitterness, and is caused by excessive or unmellowed tannins. Great red wines often taste astringent in their youth, but develop into opulent masterpieces when mature.
I hope that you believe that proper wine tasting skills are within your reach; because they certainly are. Mankind's ancient enjoyment of wine is largely derived from fact that our senses, feelings, and preferences are basic components of what makes us human.
Ben Bicais lives in the Napa Valley and is the webmaster of http://www.california-wine-tours-and-accessories.com