Deciding what wines you like

Step Four: Sip

As I write this, I am aware of how drawn out the process of tasting wine may seem. Ultimately, we buy wine to drink it. All the rest may seem like foolery. But, I believe that being wholly aware of your surroundings is the right way to experience life and wine. It's sort of like taking a moment to notice the sunset before slipping into the waves for an evening ocean swim--that pause to appreciate the horizon makes the swim all the more exceptional. In any case, we're at step four now: It's time to taste!

Tasting wine is the number one way to decide what your wine preferences are. In addition to what flavors you taste, how you feel about what the wine does to your mouth will determine what you do and do not like. For instance, if you are drinking a red wine, you can pay attention to tannins. Tannins give an acidity and bitterness to wine, similar to that found in tea or coffee. This acidity may be perceived as a fuzziness on your tongue. 

Old World and New World wines do different things to your mouth that are worth paying attention to. A wine from the Old World might totally dry out your palate from its minerality. New World wines will tend to leave a juicy feeling in your mouth. Pay attention to these feelings to help you fine-tune your own personal tastes. Doing so will give you confidence when selecting from a list or shop of unfamiliar wines (i.e. if you like what minerality does, you'll know to choose an Old World wine).

You'll see people doing funny slurping things when they taste wine. They are basically, bringing air in to splatter the wine all over the insides of their mouths. The idea that taste buds live in divided areas of the tongue was debunked ages ago. So getting the wine all around makes sure that you are taking advantage of the taste buds and their receptors in every nook and cranny of your mouth. At the same time, drawing air in ensures that your olfactory system is fully engaged and continuing its work to help you understand what you are drinking. If you want to give it a go, here's what to do...
  1. Take a good guzzle of wine into your mouth 
  2. Place your lips in a whistling position and suck in air
  3. If you're doing it right, you should be making a nice gurgle sound
  4. The characteristics of the wine should be bouncing everywhere, and you have a decision to make...
Step Five: Savor (or Spit)

Step Five is to either Savor or Spit the wine. If you're tasting strictly for evaluation purposes or tasting a great many wines, you need to get rid of the wine into some sort of spittoon. If you're having a glass, savor away!


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