Beginners Tasting Guide
Factors that affect the taste of wine
IIt’s almost impossible to eliminate every disturbance during a wine tasting because all of our senses have the potential to disrupt us, even sights and sounds. Since we mostly taste with our olfactory senses, even the slightest outside scent can distract from the wine in front of us. I know serious wine and food lovers who have asked their doctors to prescribe different medications to them because they’re no longer able to enjoy the wines that they love. Learn more.
How to train your palate to taste wine
It takes time and hard work to refine your palate and pick out some of the subtle, hidden flavors in a wine. When I first started tasting wine, I could easily identify bold flavors and tannins, yet the subdued flavors evaded me. It wasn’t until I had trained my palate on multiple styles of wine that I was able to pick out these tastes and drink comfortably around the experts. This is a skill that almost anyone can learn, and I’m here to walk you through the process. Learn more.
How to identify delicate primary flavors in wine
Even seasoned collectors feel insecure about their palates once in a while. For the longest time, my Achilles heel was herbal notes. I could easily pinpoint dark fruit, citrus, and lavender, but grass, thyme, and eucalyptus always seemed to evade me. It wasn’t because those flavors weren’t there–I’d read multiple tasting notes that all picked up on them. Rather than accepting my palate for what it was, I decided to fix this blind spot by putting my taste buds to the test. Learn more.
How to identify secondary flavors in wine
One quality separates a refined palate from an amateur: the ability to detect secondary and tertiary flavors in wine. A big reason why most professionals are able to pick out these subtle notes is because they are more familiar with the winemaking process than a layman who only occasionally imbibes. Unlike primary flavors, secondary and tertiary flavors don’t come from the young grapes themselves. They come from how the wine was fermented, or they develop over time as the primary flavors get weaker. Learn more.
How to tell if a wine has gone bad
Any wine that tastes bland or that has a strong vinegar or chemical taste has gone bad in storage. You can easily spot this flaw because you will have no desire to take more than one sip of wine. Other tasting note red flags are less obvious and unpleasant, but equally problematic. For instance, a dry red wine should never taste sweet, and if it does, it’s likely suffered from heat exposure. Still wines should never have carbonation, and if they do, it’s a sign that the wine has gone through secondary fermentation. Learn more.
How to write a tasting note
The first step in writing good tasting notes is to approach your writing from your own perspective, not worrying about what readers will think. Ultimately, a tasting note is going to be most useful for the person writing it, not the person reading it. It should primarily be for your own use, as a way to jog your memory about a wine and decide if it’s a bottle you would be willing to invest in again. Learn more.