A few months ago I had the chance to take part in a wine tasting session. I know; dirty job, but someone has to do it! Leading the lesson was a sommelier with about 15 years of experience; obviously a woman who knows her way around a bottle. Yet she claimed to still be learning.
Which is my way of saying that anything you read here is based on the notes of a rank amateur (me) who hardly ever drinks wine, so forgive me if something isn’t quite right.
Here’s what I now know. The front of the tongue tastes sweet and salty, the side detects sour, and the back of the tongue senses bitter. Ninety per cent of red is a one in terms of dryness. To me, ?dry? means tartness.
White wine should be served chilled, which means you need to pop it into the freezer for about 10 minutes at between -4 and -7 degrees. But don’t chill red for more than five to seven minutes in the fridge.
Let wine (except for bubbly) breathe for approximately two hours after decanting. After you open a bottle you should consume it within 48 to 72 hours, but if you use a vacuum It’s good for up to a week. A boxed wine can stay good for up to three weeks because of the vacuum seals. Screw-cap bottles are not a sign of an inferior product and in fact prevent ?cork taint? or leaking. Cork taint can affect up to 10 per cent of every wine in a winery.
Read the label to learn the name of the winery, the vintage (or year bottled), the varietal (or name of the grape), where It’s from, and the alcohol level. Look for merit or accolades (award stickers) on the bottles when shopping for wine. Canada is right up there with Spain, the US, Australia, and New Zealand in the whites. Chile, Spain, the US, and Australia have great reds.
Our tasting table included a bucket for pouring the sample into if we didn’t drink it all, and a plate of crackers to cleanse the palate between samples. We also had a pitcher of water to rinse our glasses between red and white.
The procedure is simple. Swirl the sample (unless It’s a bubbly) to determine the ?leg,? or how it moves down the bowl of your glass. The slower it moves, the more alcohol it has. Our five samples ranged from 11 to 15 per cent alcohol.
Look at the wine for clarity. Is it murky? Does it have floaters? To determine the ?nose,? get your nose into the bowl of the glass and smell. Take a big breath and swirl the sample in your mouth before swallowing. Give it another chance by repeating the procedure.
Better yet, just have fun doing your own research, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.