Wine for Beginners

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When considering wine for beginners it is very important to remember that enjoying wine is all about smelling and tasting. However, the wine experience is also influenced by what you see and perceive as well.

Wines may be sweet, dry, fruity, full, or light to name a few descriptors. The more you know about how to experience wine, the better you will become at understanding your wine experience.

Wine Tasting Basics

In order to fully understand this, you should also know that your tongue is home to more than 10,000 taste buds, which help you experience everything you drink and eat. Taste buds are sensory receptors that allow you to detect the presence of compounds in anything that hits them.

While there may be thousands of words to describe the flavors you experience, there are really only 4 basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Smelling the Wine

The first step in actually tasting a wine is to smell it. It is not advisable to “taste” wine if you have a cold, as your senses will be affected. In order to pick up on the true aroma of your wine, you should gently swirl your glass for a moment.

This allows the wine compounds to react with the air. First, take in the aroma wafting from the glass, and then put your nose right in. Do you smell fruit? Perhaps you smell sugar and alcohol. When smelling wine, don’t worry if you don’t pick up on a particular fruit or flower. This will come with much practice!

Appearance of Wine

The color and clarity of a wine also affects its taste. A good way to determine the color and clarity of a wine is to hold your glass at arm’s length against a white background. Take a look at how the light comes through the wine.

Does it seem light or dark?

Are there bubbles?

A good quality wine will be brightly colored and not hazy or cloudy. If you are drinking red wine and it has a brownish tint to it, it may have oxidized or has gone bad. White wines are very indicative of their color.

Light, straw colored wines will usually be crisp, light, and refreshing while darker whites have deeper, richer flavors.

Tasting the Wine

The first taste of wine is always going to be a shock to your taste buds, so don’t ever go by that. The trick is to get them acquainted with the wine immediately. Then, take another sip of wine, but don’t swallow it. Hold it in your mouth for about five second then swallow it.

You will be able to perceive any acidity (on the sides of your tongue) or sweetness (on the tip of your tongue). If tannins are present in the wine, you will experience a sense of drying in your mouth within a minute or so. All the while, remember to breathe in and out of your nose to get the full sensation and experience of the wine.

By following these “wine for beginners” tips you will surely become the wine expert that you have always wanted to be. While you don’t need to know everything about wine in order to enjoy it, you do need to know how to experience wine to understand it.

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