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Beginner's Guide To The Art of Wine Appreciation

Wine tasting is an excellent way to discover and refine your palate, ultimately leading you to know which ones you like and dislike. One might go for the idea of buying a whole array of them, gathering a group of people, and trying them out without following the proper guidelines set in place. While it may seem exciting at first, the only thing that’s going to result from the experience is a major headache! Worst of all - you still won’t know how to taste wine accordingly, leaving you back at square one. If only there was a wine-tasting guide to help you out…

Luckily, there is - and you’ve landed on it! From the start, you need to know that wine tasting is a delicate craft, one that almost resembles an art form. In other words, you can’t go at it without establishing the right conditions and following a set of “rules” that will tell you all sorts of information about the wine you’re drinking. For that reason, we’ve gathered several beginner’s wine tips that will help you with the tasting experience.

Why Wine Tasting?

Before jumping into our wine-tasting guide, let’s see why it’s essential that you partake in the experience.

As previously mentioned, assessing wines will allow you to discover a variety of tastes and aromas, which will further lead you towards your favourite types. Keep in mind that this is a practice that requires years to master, but the tips provided will give you a basic understanding of it. With that said, the next time a restaurant or bar (unfortunately) doesn’t offer Tikves wines, you’ll know what to order!

Moreover, wine tasting can also be an excellent group activity! While you can find many establishments that organise this event frequently, you can invite all of your closest ones and do it at home. Still, you need to be extra careful about providing the ideal conditions for the experience. Don’t worry - our wine-tasting guide features that as well!

On the other hand, this is also a great activity to do on your own, especially if you’re an avid wine lover. In fact, sometimes it’s recommended to do it on your own because you won’t be distracted, meaning that all of your focus will go into the blends’ tastes and aromas. Consequently, this will make you more knowledgeable on the matter, inspiring you to try out all kinds of wine varieties in the long run.

Wine Tasting Essentials

No matter if you’re hosting or attending a wine tasting experience, having ideal conditions is of utmost importance. In this case, we’ll focus more on the former, since the establishments where this event is held usually cover this beforehand.

Firstly, you’ll need some wine glasses, different blends, and a spittoon. You don’t need to purchase special glasses - the ones you have in your home will suffice. However, make sure that they have enough room for the wine to be swirled in, especially if you’re trying out a selection of reds. As for the spittoon, here you’ll be spitting out the wine after each taste. Of course, you’re free to swallow, but sometimes the aftertaste can overwhelm your tastebuds. With that in mind, it’s recommended that you keep this only for the blends that you really like. Finally, since you’ll be doing plenty of spitting, you might not want to wear fancy clothes - we all know how the stains are hard to get rid of.

Next, you need to establish the appropriate conditions. This is probably the most important step in our wine-tasting guide, as outside factors can greatly influence your assessments. For starters, the room where the experience will be held needs to be quiet and minimally crowded. It might come as a surprise, but noise can impact the tasting. Furthermore, the room also must be free from any kind of smells. Achieving neutrality in this case may be impossible, but aim for a setting that doesn’t have too many overpowering odours. Simply put, if you plan on cooking before the experience takes place, you shouldn’t do the wine tasting in your kitchen. Also ensure that the room has plenty of light, preferably daylight. This will help you see the colour of the wine more clearly.

Lastly, the wine needs to be served at the appropriate temperature. As a rule of thumb, white and rose are served at 7-10 C, while reds at 12-18 C. However, if you’re not aiming for precision, you can do what wine professionals call the ‘20-20’ rule. Refrigerate your red 20 minutes before serving, and take your white or rose 20 minutes before.

Step-by-Step Wine-Tasting Guide

Once you have everything set up, it’s time to officially start assessing the wine! This will be done in three steps - looking, smelling, and tasting - all of which have their unique processes. Also, have some bread or crackers after you try a certain type of wine. This will cleanse your palate, making your tastebuds neutralised, so you can fully capture the taste of the next one you try.

1. Appearance

The first step in our wine-tasting guide is the visual assessment. Once you’ve poured your first glass (the volume shouldn’t exceed 40cl), carefully study the appearance of it, specifically its colour. Make sure you do this part against a white background like a wall or napkin, as outside factors can contribute to false assessments. Also, you should look at the wine from three different positions - the front which gives you the first impression of the colour, the side view which informs about the clarity, and the tilted view which will give you a better idea of the intensity of the colour.

After you’ve taken a good look at the wine, let’s see why you’re actually doing this! Namely, the wine’s colour signifies its age. Reds that have hints of orange, dark brown, and amber signify maturity, whereas purple shows the opposite. In the case of whites, older wines feature orange and brown hues, while greenish ones signify youth. Lastly, young rosés have a pink-purple colour, and aged ones are more brownish.

Once you’ve examined the colour, give the glass a good swirl. Inside, you’ll see that the wine will start to leave a bubbly trace, or what is more commonly known as “wine legs” This will show you the alcohol and sugar content, not the wine’s quality, as the myth dictates. In general, the higher the contents are, the heavier the legs will be. However, outside factors like temperature and humidity can also affect them, meaning they don’t tell you whether one type of wine is better than the other.

2. Smell

From the visual assessment, the next step is to take note of the wine’s smell. Take the glass and spin it for about ten seconds. The aromas are usually “stuck” at the bottom, so the whirls will make them more active.

Now, one common mistake that people make is they usually sense the smell of the cork first. Since the nose is probably the most sensitive organ, this odour will stay in your brain, making you believe that it’s part of the wine. Again, this can be avoided by spinning the glass around as the primary notes will come into effect.

Stick your nose directly into the glass and take a couple of short whiffs. There are two things you’ll need to look into - intensity and aromas. The wine can either be light, medium, or intense. If you can smell it from further away, that means that its intensity is pretty high. In contrast, if you need to be as close to the glass to take its essence, the wine is considered light.

Aromas also play a crucial part in our wine-tasting guide. Although this is pretty simple to do, you must be as precise as possible to fully capture the smell. Basically, once you take a good whiff of the wine, note what you smell. This can range from fruits and citrus to spices and herbs. Again, you need to be really specific with this assessment, as adjectives like ‘feminine’ or ‘woody’ will result in a wrong impression. Typically, younger wines tend to smell more fruity, while aged ones are spicier, but this is a very heavy generalization, so it shouldn’t be taken as a fact.

3. Taste

Finally, the last step of this wine-tasting guide is - you guessed it - the taste! Much like the smell, you need to be very observant with what’s going on once the wine touches the palate, as this will indicate whether you like the wine or not.

First, feel the body of the wine. Move it around in your mouth and notice how thick it feels. If it leaves a heavy taste, that means that the wine is high in alcohol content, though that doesn’t always have to be the case. Next, take note of the sweetness. As part of beginner’s wine tips, be careful not to mistake sweetness for fruitiness, as this is completely different. Nevertheless, if you feel no sugariness, the wine is dry. 

Taking note of the acidity is the next step in your assessment. Take a little sip of wine, and open your mouth just a little. As a rule of thumb, the more saliva you produce after the sip, the more acidic the wine is. In contrast, if you’re not mouthwatering, this means that the wine has a smooth taste.

As the last step, you need to consider the aftertaste. It can be either short, medium, or long, and it’s measured in seconds. So, if the taste stays with you for no longer than three seconds, the aftertaste is short. Once the aftertaste reaches the 30-second mark, the wine is considered to have a long finish.

After carefully assessing all of these three processes, write them down as precisely as possible. By doing so, you will have a clear understanding of which wine you’ve liked most, thus giving you clarity on your palate’s preferred types. And with that, we conclude our wine-tasting guide!

Now that you know how to evaluate wines, the only thing left is to organize your own tasting experience! We invite you to check out our vast selection of Tikves wines, promising a sensational taste that you’ll want to come back to time and time again. 

If you want to learn more about the intricacies of wine, make sure to read the rest of our blogs.

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