It sounds idyllic, a visit to green vineyards, the sun shining overhead, pleasant chit-chat, and a chance to discover how wine is made. Of course, there will be time to taste the wine and, if you wish, to purchase several bottles.
Alongside this beautiful image, you’re likely to suddenly realize that you don’t know anything about wine tasting. Fortunately, this guide to how do wine tastings work will tell you everything you need to know. You’ll be able to confidently walk in anywhere, whether it’s a vineyard in the south of France or a more intimate wine tasting Newcastle.
Table of Contents
Make A Reservation
It may seem obvious but you need to reserve a spot at your chosen wine tasting event. These events are generally small to help provide the best possible experience and ensure everyone gets the opportunity to taste the wine. In other words, you can’t normally just turn up and expect to taste the wine.
You’ll also need to choose the right venue. It needs to be large enough to accommodate your group and offer wines that you will enjoy trying. Naturally, you’ll also need to work out how you will get to and from the venue. After tasting a variety of wines you won’t be legally able to drive.
If you visit a vineyard, you’ll get shown the vines and the production process. This generally happens when you visit any winery. However, if they are smaller they may source the grapes and only make the wine on-site. You’ll still learn how it’s made.
This is important for the winery as it allows you to understand the wine, how it’s made, and why it’s unique. You’ll be able to chat with other visitors and share stories.
The Main Event
Once you’ve learned about the wine you’ll have the opportunity to taste it and get to know it properly.
There are several steps:
- Observing wine like a professional can be an enlightening experience. Even if you can’t glean as much information as a sommelier, paying attention to the wine’s color, clarity, and behavior in the glass will certainly make you look like a connoisseur. But let’s not forget the specialized tools a sommelier uses to make these precise judgments. From a well-crafted corkscrew designed for flawless cork removal, to a tastevin for sampling wines, the tools are crucial for a more accurate assessment. Sommeliers often employ aerators to allow the wine to breathe, enhancing its flavors and aromas. They may also use wine thermometers to make sure each varietal is served at its optimal temperature. Even drop stoppers and specially-designed decanters can be part of a sommelier’s toolkit, helping them manage older wines with sediment and ensuring a perfect pour every time.
It is still worth taking a look at the wine. Spare a moment to watch the colors dancing in the liquid. It can help to swirl the wine and watch it trickle down the inside of your glass.
You may not get the same amount of info as a sommelier but you will look like you know what you’re doing;
- Smell it. Next, raise the glass to your nose and take a big sniff. You don’t need to smell many different wines to appreciate they are all different. There may be aromas you can identify or you may simply like the smell.
Your guide should help you identify the different notes in the wine by talking you through what you can smell. Listen to them;
- Taste it. Now you’re getting to the good part. It’s time to taste the wine. Professionals often drink wine, encouraging more oxygen into their mouths to expose the flavors in the wine. You can try this but you may not appreciate everything this technique offers.
Instead, swirl the wine in your glass again and take a small sip. Let the liquid sit in your mouth and swish it around to help release the flavor.
You’ll want to see what flavors you can identify, this can be the hardest part of wine tasting, especially if you’re new to it. Take your time with this and remember that everyone detects different things in the wine.
At this stage, you’ll know whether you like the wine or not.
Spit Or Swallow?
There is nothing wrong with swallowing the wine and enjoying the flavors as they move down your throat. However, if you will be trying a variety of wines, these small sips can quickly add up. You may be surprised by how many people get drunk enough to pass out.
That’s why professionals spit and you should consider doing the same. It will allow you to try a much wider variety of wines. You’ll also stay sober enough to remember the experience and not regret your impulsive wine purchases.
Wine Tasting Tips
Wine tasting should be fun, you should try wines you’ve never tried before, and you may even take some home with you. To get the most out of your wine tasting experience you should consider the following:
- Dress the part. There isn’t usually a dress code which is why people turn up wearing all sorts. However, if you want to try the maximum number of wines and make the most of your visit, you should dress the part.
It will help the servers take you seriously and that ensures the wine keeps coming. Just remember to avoid white, red white stains are very obvious on white clothing;
- Cleanse. After you have tried one wine, take a small piece of bread, some sparkling water, or even cheese. There will be something available at the event.
It’s called a palate cleanser and allows you to enjoy how the wine tastes. It also helps to stop your tongue from drying out with all the wine;
- Plan to buy something. Wine tasting events generally cost money and the hosts aren’t expecting you to walk away with cases of wine. However, it doesn’t hurt to buy a bottle, or perhaps two.
As soon as the hosts realize you’re likely to buy something they will keep offering different wines to taste. You’re almost certain to find something that appeals. Then you can relive the experience at home;
- Avoid perfumes. Perfumes and colognes will make it very difficult for you to smell the wine and appreciate all its qualities. It can even affect the taste of the wine. In short, avoid using perfumes and colognes and make the most of your visit.
There you have it! The answer to how do wine tastings work isn’t complicated. You don’t need to be a professional, simply follow the above tips and the instructions of your host, and you’ll have a fantastic experience. You may even find your new favorite wine.