In wine tasting, we ‘swirl’, ‘smell’ and 'slurp' wine to better evaluate the flavours, aromas characteristics and complexities of a wine.
Before we start...
Pour: To the widest point in the glass
Look: Start by examining the wine's colour, clarity, and viscosity. Hold the glass up to the light and look for any sediment or particles in the wine. This can give you an idea of the wine's age and quality.
Here is my simple 3-step process that uses all of your senses and engages your brain - as looking at the wine doesn’t reveal too much...
SWIRL: This oxygenates and releases flavour compounds.
SMELL: Smell is important – stick your nose in and don’t be embarrassed! 90% of what you smell is what you taste. Look for flavours such as fruit, vanilla or coconut.
SLURP: Remember, no one looks good when properly tasting. Take a teaspoon-sized slurp and roll the wine around your mouth. Look for texture, weight and acidity. The middle of the palette is actually insensitive. You'll get acidity from the back and sides of the mouth when you roll the wine around.
But why do we do this and what does this actually do to the wine?
Release the aromas. Swirling the wine in the glass exposes it to oxygen, which can help release the wine's aromas and enhance its bouquet - the initial smell when it is first poured into a glass - to volatilise the aromatic compounds.
Aerates the wine. Swirling wine in the glass can also help to aerate it, allowing it to mix with oxygen and soften the tannins. Aeration can actually be beneficial for young, tannic red wines that benefit from some exposure to air before being consumed.
It helps assess the wine's quality. Swirling the wine can also help to assess its quality. A wine that leaves visible legs or tears on the glass may be an indication of higher alcohol or sugar content, while a wine that quickly coats the glass may indicate a higher viscosity or concentration of flavours.
Slurping helps better appreciate the wine. This allows you to identify different flavours and characteristics that you might not have otherwise noticed.
Remember, wine tasting is subjective, everyone's experience may differ and that's the joy and fun of it too! The most important thing is to enjoy the wine and appreciate its unique characteristics.