We will first clarify what we mean by tasting: it is the process of evaluation and valuation of a wine through techniques involving sight, smell and taste.
There are professional and hedonistic tastings:
Professional tasting: this is analytic, systematic and objective and is made by the winemaker during the preparation of the wine and until its final bottling, to detect defects and merits.
There is another where connoisseurs and professionals analyze and judge the wines, awarding them scores or some recognition in the case of competitions.
Hedonistic tasting: this is that done for mere pleasure, when consumers discover the wine’s components and values subjectively to enjoy it later.
Stages of a tasting
These are three: seeing, smelling and tasting.
From there and with the help of the five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing – you enter a world of marvelous sensations.
This is the first step in appreciating a wine. Although it is not the most important, it will give us information about its age, character, health and body.
- It is necessary to hold the glass at some 45 degrees and place it on a white surface under good lighting, preferably natural or white light.
This is the second phase and the one when we appreciate the volatile properties of the wine, with all its marvelous sensorial world.
- The nose is the instrument that sends information to the brain, and this is closely linked to taste.
- First you have to smell the wine in the glass on the table, without moving it, in what is called a quiet or still glass, to capture the lightest aromas coming from it and which can indicate certain defects.
- Still with the glass on the table, we make a slight movement to break the surface and see whether less volatile aromas arise.
- Then we take the base of the glass in the hand, without touching the body in order not to alter the temperature or transmit strange smells to the wine, and we give it a fast but firm circular swill in order for the wine to wet the whole glass and release its more intense aromas.
- We bring the glass close to the nose and inhale softly to give us the first olfactory impression which will be the most important. If we do this very strongly, we will be oxygenating the lungs, but not smelling.
- We again leave the glass on the table and concentrate on the aromas we have just perceived and then, after a pause, we repeat the operation two or three times more.
It is the third step where the four principal components intervene: salty, sweet, acid and bitter, and it is when we really discover the flavor of a wine.
- We take a small sip, without swallowing it, and we swill it around the whole mouth with the tongue. Some 6 to 10 seconds are enough and then we either drink it or spit it out. We can even repeat this step until we are sure of the taste-smell perception.
- If we then pass to another wine, it is essential to take a glass of water to clean the palate for the next sensations.
- Whether it is a professional tasting or simply for pleasure, it is always good to note all the tastings in order to describe the sensations in our own way and record everything inherent in the wine we are tasting.