You Sniff, You Swirl, You Spit: Testing Wine is Fun, and Then Some
If you thought peering into a glass of wine, swirling it around and sniffing suspiciously at it, before taking a mouthful only to spit it out was the basic to getting your wine correct, you are wrong, my friend.
There are five major elements to look out for in a wine. So before you sniff, swirl and sip; here are the five basic elements that will help you evaluate the quality of wine.
So you've always been a fan of a wine that leaves a dry sensation in your mouth. But does that mean you have a thing for ‘dry wines’? Hell no! Dry wine means a wine that has no sugar and is, therefore, not sweet.
In dry wines, the grape juice is made to ferment fully until the yeast eats into all the sugar present in the juice. This causes the wine to taste bitter.
Ajit Balgi who is a wine connoisseur and has an advance certification in wine from Wine and Spirit Education Trust, London, says,
Dry wine varieties include Reisling, Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc , Pinot Grogio, etc. Karen Frazier, California Wine Appelation Specialist says,
If the glass of wine you had last night gave you a headache, then it was probably rich in tannins.
The other easy way to know if your wine has tannins is when it leaves a drying sensation in your mouth.
Red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon are dry as they are rich in tannins. What makes a wine rich in tannins is how long the grape skin and seeds are made to soak in the juice. Red wine, thus, has more tannins since the grape skin is made to soak longer – so that it gets its characteristic red colour. So if you want to choose a wine that has less tannins – go for white!
But the upside to having red wines and more tannins is that they are rich in anti oxidants.
So the next time you think of having black tea, ditch the thought and cozy up to a glass of red wine instead!
Many a wine gives you that tingling sensation on the front side of your tongue, making you pucker. It usually makes your mouth feel wet – as if you’ve just bitten into an apple. This is the acidity in a wine.
Acidity is a wine's ‘pucker’ or tartness and imparts that refreshing lemonade-like fizziness to wine. Just like the refreshing taste of a citrus fruit, wines with high acidity are crisp, bright and full of freshness. White wines have more acidity than the Reds.
Says Nikhil Agarwal, who is a Sommelier and has been in this profession for the last 20 years:
So the next time you have wine and it tastes dull and boring, you should know that it has lost its acidity.
Many a people describe wines as tasting of raspberries, passion fruit, melon and cherries. So how do these fruits find their way into wines?
Says Ajit Balgi:
When tasting for the fruitiness in red wines, look out for dark fruits like blackberries and blueberries. And in whites – for lemon, lime or peach.
If your wine has an aroma of vanilla, cloves, cinnamon and allspice – and when drunk, has additional flavours of caramel and sometimes even butter, then you should know your wine has been aged in an oak barrel.
Many wines are matured in an oak barrel as the contact with oak softens and smooths the wine. These wines are smooth on the palate – especially in the case of reds. Many whites are matured in an oak barrel and the flavour imparted by the barrel is easy to appreciate in case of whites.
(A freelance food and fashion blogger, Pranjali Bhonde Pethe aims at getting people and their favourite food and style closer through her blog moipalate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on @moipalate.)