What is wine? Wine is an ethanol based beverage made by fermenting and aging, but not distilling. It can be made from fruit juice, flower juice, honey juice, or rice liquid. The two most common wines in production currently are grape wine made with a distinct variety of grape called vitis vinifera, and rice wine or Osake お酒. There is the oldest recorded beverage purposely made during human history, which we call mead. Mead is made with honey. There are two other types of wines. There is fruit wine made with any type of fruit such as peaches, plums, strawberries, etc.. Then there is flower or herb wine made with juice from these plants such as: hibiscus, rose hip wine, or dandelion wine.
Suggestions for better enjoyment
Have you ever been told to hold your nose if you do not want to taste something you do not appreciate? I was told this as a kid when given medicine. I have taken several sensory analysis classes and noticed how powerful the nose really is. There are people who get jobs solely on the the performance of what they can detect with their nose. If you taste properly you often can pick out faults in wines, which will tell you when and when not to buy. To enhance the experience the most important things that I have learned in tasting wines , and other things are:
- Be in an environment where there are no perfumes. People who go wine tasting covered in perfume are ruining everyone else’s experience. If there are chemicals, they can impair your sense of smell. You just want to smell the wine.
- Do not use toothpaste before going to taste, infact eat something, and then just use water when brushing your teeth. I had a professor tell me this. I did not believe him, so I tested it. I should of believed him because he was one of the four people for Costco who chose wine for all the stores. It helps a lot to not have a tainted mouth.
- Use proper glassware. If you know a tasting room will not have proper glassware bring your own. Helps you define what is better. Proper glassware is made to enhance the olfactory senses. The amount of oxygen that the nose takes in with the wine, will help the taster determine the quality of the beverage. Riedel is currently the best wine glass maker. Their product is made with crystal in Germany. They make wine glasses for different varieties of wine, to better enhance that experience. Having the proper glass can make a world of difference. I had a client who took me out tasting when I was new to the wine industry, and she showed me what a difference a wine glass can make. She had me try the same wine from two different glasses. It tasted like two completely different wines.
- Do not get drunk. Sounds difficult, but it requires spitting. Sounds gross to some people, but you can make a far better decision if you do not consume the things that you are tasting. There are spittoons (dump buckets) at every winery. You can always bring a small cup if you do not want people to see you spit, and then dump it after.
- Cleanse your palate between tastings. Always bring water and a very plain salt free cracker. I suggest Oyster Crackers. They are small sized, and get the job done. Drink a bit of water after the crackers and move on to the next tasting.
- When you are about to taste, see how far the wine glass has to be from your face before the aroma hits you. This can help you identify how you feel about it.
There are a lot of wine bottle openers out there, but I love boomerang bottle openers. The foil cutters are more discrete, and less likely to cut the sommeliers hand, as well as, it requires little to no effort to lift the corks, where as a laguiole wine opener has a knife and is difficult.
At the first tasting room I worked at in Santa Barbara County I was told something I have come to understand over the years, “You cannot fix a bad wine, but you can always make a good wine better. Decanting is the key to making a good red wine magnificent.” I can stand by Vintorio Aerators because I saw how peoples faces lit up when I opened a fresh bottle, then poured an initial tasting, and an aerated tasting. They always wanted it decanted.
Do it yourself
I have read these books and would highly recommend them.