Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. Whilst the practice of wine tasting is as old as the production of wine, a more formalised methodology has evolved over centuries. Modern, professional wine tasters use a constantly-evolving formal terminology which is used to describe the range of perceived flavors, aromas and general characteristics of a wine. More informal, recreational tasting may use similar terminology, usually involving a much less analytical process for a more general, personal appreciation.
The four stages of wine tasting include appearance, aroma, “in mouth” sensation and aftertaste. These are rated and combined to establish a wine’s complexity, character, potential and possible faults. A wine’s overall quality assessment, based on this examination, follows further careful description and comparison with recognised standards, both with respect to other wines in its price range and according to known factors pertaining to the region or vintage.
Whereas wines are regularly tasted in isolation, a wine’s quality assessment is more objective when performed alongside several other wines, in what are known as tasting “flights”. Tasting flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison. In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted. This emphasizes differences between various vintages. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries. Keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasise differences in winery styles.
The temperature that a wine is served at can greatly affect the way it tastes and smells. Lower temperatures emphasise acidity and tannins whilst muting the aromatics. Higher temperatures will minimise acidity and tannins while increasing the aromatics.
Wine tasting has its own unique set of manners and behaviours. Always allow other tasters the chance to form their own opinions. Wait until everyone has had a chance to taste a wine before making any comments. Don’t interfere with other taster’s sense of smell. This means no smoking or use of highly scented products such as after-shave or perfume. Drawing air into the mouth enhances tasting ability. The gurgling sound this can make is considered perfectly alright at a wine tasting. Spitting is permitted at wine tasting events. Usually a spittoon, plastic cup or ice bucket is provided for this purpose. In wineries, professional tasters even spit directly into drains or onto a gravel floor.
Whether professional or recreational, wine tasting is a multi-sensory and fun hobby.
Please feel free to have a look at our wine tasting accommodation locations.