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How to Taste Wine

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How To Taste Wine

by Meena Sethi

Tasting wine is a source of fun and pleasure and it's a way of reviewing the quality of the wine you buy. Just as a chef verifies the excellence of every ingredient, you can taste and review wines to ensure the maximum pleasure of you and your guests. At Kendall FineWine Spirits, we often have wine tastings for your pleasure and enlightenment. Use these five easy steps of wine tasting the next time you visit our store:

1) Color

Observe the color and clarity of the wine by holding your glass up to a white background (place-mat or tablecloth) in a well-lit room. Color is a first indication of quality, age and wine type.

White wines can appear anywhere from a light green, clear, straw yellow, gold to brown in color. As white wines get older they gain color.

Red wines may be purple, ruby, brick red, to brownish red. As red wines mature, they lose color and take on a brick tint.

2) Swirl

By swirling the wine in the glass, you allow oxygen and agitation to release more of the bouquet of the wine. By aerating the wine before you take the first sniff, you will be able to judge the wine better. This process is especially important for young red wines and overchilled wines.

3) Smell

What is the very first thing that you think of when you smell the wine? If you can make yourself think of this every time you pick up a glass of wine, you will learn much about evaluating wines. Do you smell pumpkin pie? Freshly mown grass? Strawberries? Your grandpa's cigar box? These associations make wine tasting fun and makes it easier to remember wines.

Much of our sense of taste is acutally our ability to smell. Flavor is the combination of taste (sweet, acid, bitter, salty) and smell. The experience is mostly smell. Note: Watch for "off" smells in wine:

Vinegar: Too much acetic acid in the wine.

Sherry: Wine has oxidized.

Cork: Wine absorbed the taste of a defective cork and the taste is similar to a musty cellar.

4) Taste

Taste with all of your taste buds, keeping in mind:

Body: The weight and feel of the wine on the palate

Acidity: Derived from the natural malic and tartaric acids from the grapes, creating astringency.

Tannin: Complex phenolic molecules that affect the proteins in your saliva. When tannin is excessive, they can produce a "clawing" feeling on the palate.

Sweetness: This can come from residual sugar or the impression of sweetness. It can also come from alcohol or some compounds that come from oak aging.

5) Finish

After swallowing your first sip of the wine, begin to evaluate it. Ask yourself these questions: Did you like the wine? Why or why not?

Remember to use these tips the next time you purchase your wine at Kendall FineWine Spirits.


You must be 21 years or older to purchase alcoholic beverages.

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