Hosting a Wine Tasting Event

wine and cheese tasting

There is nothing that will make a bottle of homemade Concord grape wine taste like an eight year old bottle of French merlot. Wine is never better than the day they pick the grapes. It is up to the wine maker to bring out the full potential of the harvest and preserve the unique character of the vintage.

Based on the belief that people drink first with the eyes, here are suggestions for wine enjoyment gatherings. Gather a good bottle of wine, a stemmed wine glass and a sheet of white paper.

To see the true color of a wine the glass should be tilted and the wine viewed from the edge against a white paper background. You should notice gradual darkening as you scan from the nearly transparent edge to the deeper and denser portion of the wine. This will work with red or white wine.

The first thing to look for is signs of browning which indicates oxidation, a condition caused by poor storage of the juice prior to fermentation. Next, look for tiny particles floating in the wine, a chunk of silt indicates poor racking. If flakes are present, it could mean the wine was bottled too soon and the tartaric acid didn’t completely precipitate out. This is most noticeable in white wines. Now look at the polish. This is a glow or shimmer that reflects off the wine’s surface. A well-made and aged wine may seem to glow. This condition is enhanced by filtering prior to bottling.

The final visual assessment is to check the legs. The term ‘legs’ is used to describe the foundation on which the overall wine stands; exposing the legs requires the wine be swirled in the glass causing it to climb up the sides of the glass. It’s best to start slowly with the glass on a flat surface. Hold the glass by the stem closest to the foot. Slowly spin the glass in a circle the size of a nickel without lifting it off the counter. As you do, the wine will begin to swirl and rise up the glass. The faster the spin, the higher the wine will rise. When the spinning stops, the legs will be revealed. You will see streaks of clear, viscous liquid running down the glass and clinging to the sides. The rule of thumb is ‘The longer these streaks linger, the longer legs the wine has’. These legs are an indication of the strength, proper aging and storage as well as a clue to the anticipated mouth feel or body in the wine.

The swirling action described above serves another purpose. As the wine spins in the glass it gives off aromas and releases compounds into the air which are easily inhaled and analyzed. More importantly these aromas entice the taste buds with expectation. If a simple and dainty sniff is all you think is needed, you are missing out on the full experience. Filling the nose, nasal passages and sinus cavities with the aromas are best. Place your nose inside the glass and breathe deeply. Take two or three deep breaths in this manner. You should almost be able to taste the wine in the back of your throat. At this point your taste buds should be fully alert and it’s time to taste (taste, not drink).

Take a sip of wine and hold it in your mouth. Tilt your head forward so the wine is between your teeth and against your lips. Draw air through a small opening in your lips and through the wine for a few seconds then swallow. Take a shallow breath to experience the sensations in your mouth and on your tongue. Slowly exhale and note the changes. Enjoy the remaining wine with your senses fully in tune with the experience.

Utilizing these tasting tips at your next wine appreciation gathering will permit you to enjoy every bit of the wines potential.

Choose the right glass to use when service homemade wine

Wine Making

Complete Home Wine Making Kits and Supplies for the Beginner and Advanced Wine Maker