The 5 S’s of Wine Appreciation
Is it for Sissies — Sophisticates — or Somewhere inbetween? ? ? What they are and why they are important.
See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savour
Our senses, and in particular our sense of sight, determine much of our behaviour. The same is true when it comes to the enjoyment of food. Our sense of sight is key when it comes to wine! Hold up the glass to appreciate the colour. What you see is your first clue of the taste to come. The lighter the colour – the lighter the flavour, the deeper – the more full bodied. Reds will range from cherry reds to deep, almost purple. Whites from pale, delicate yellow, perhaps a hint of pale green all the way to gold.
Note: if you see a brown tinge or something “off” in colour – that’s your first important clue of what’s to come-delicious or hopefully, not.
To add oxygen to the wine is very important. Swirling accentuates the flavour. As well, by looking at the “legs” (the veins of the wine that remain on the sides of the glass) reveal the alcohol level of the wine. The thicker the legs the higher the alcohol content, like an Amarone, thinner like a Riesling.
Put your nose close to the lower rim of the glass, a little over the edge and smell. Pay attention to the aromas that you smell — this is the most difficult but important part of the process. Our sense of smell is the one sense that is not directly connected with the ability to describe what we are smelling. This is what separates the sommelier from the novice. But with a little practice … no actually a lot of practice (and happy to say lots of glasses of wine) you will be able to break down the individual aromas that your nose will detect. What helps is the use of wine aromas kits (www.wineawakenings.com). It will make this task easier.
(or slurp – even though your mother told you not to do that – it’s okay when it comes to wine!) Here is where the real fun begins … finally you get to taste!!! Take a small amount in your mouth and hold it there, while breathing in with your nose. Swoosh it around your mouth – not like mouthwash please! Feel the texture of the wine, savour it all around your mouth and tongue which will detect sweetness, salty, sour & bitter. By exhaling and inhaling through your nose you are getting a combination of smell and aroma simultaneously – just like you do with your favourite food – except all of this greatness is coming from the glass – no chewing required!!!
– forget about it! – That’s reserved for those professional wine tasters tasked with grading wines – not you who is there to enjoy the experience! See it’s not so bad to be a wine lover, is it! Except if any of your first clues result something “off”, which tells you that it’s a bad wine (and there are bad wines – sadly) so then the other “s” kicks in … Send it back.
– the best of all. The wine will further “develop” right in your mouth.
S …. E N J O Y
All this will allow you to become Your Own Wine Expert