How to be a Wine Snob: The Nuances of Tasting Wine
SulaFest is around the corner and before you start packing your bags, it might be a good idea to up your wine game. After all, who wants to look like an ignorant peasant when in fair wine-swirling company? Luckily, our wine expert Sonal Holland MW is here to help. Let's break down the art of appreciating wine (and no, it doesn't start with draining half your glass):
1. How to taste wine like a pro
First, look at the wine. Then, sniff it. Third, taste the wine and look at all the elements on your palate. Lastly, assess the wine. Let's get into the details.
Look at the colour of the wine. A light coloured white wine often indicates its youthfulness, though it could also be due to the grape variety. However, for red wines, the reverse holds true, with aged wines being paler in colour.
Before sniffing, swirl the wine in your glass to release the aromatics and allow the wine to open up. First, look for a scent of fruit. There are also floral aromatics that come through a wine. You may also smell spices like vanilla or cinnamon. Lastly, earthy or woody aromas may also emanate from the wine.
Blow air through the mouth as you swish the wine with your tongue. If the wine is not sweet at all, it's a dry variety. In terms of acidity, how lively is it? In terms of body, is it watery or fuller? Try to answer these questions as you taste the wine.
In red wines, also look out for tannins, the gum-drying sensation you get after sipping on red wine. Ideally, they should be rounded and smooth on the palate.
Finally, assess how balanced and pleasurable the wine is overall.
2. How to hold a wine glass
The wine glass comes with a stem so you can hold it there and not transfer body heat to the wine. However, if the wine is too cold, you can cup it with your palm to warm it. However, holding it by the stem makes it easier to swirl, sniff and taste as well.
3. How to open a bottle of wine
First, open the foil at the top of the bottle with a foil cutter or peel off with a knife if you don't have one. Then, insert the screw of the corkscrew in the middle of the cork. Holding it tight, use the handle at the top to rotate it downward. The final technique varies depending on the type of corkscrew or wine opener used.
4. How to choose the right wine glass
Choose crystal over glass, if you can find it. The shape matters - a slightly wider bowl allows you to swirl it easily. Choose clear and colourless over cut and tinted glasses for visual appreciation.
For sparkling wines and Champagne, we use a tall flute. For white wines, the glasses are slightly wider than a flute but not too much, to retain the fruitiness and fresh aromas. For red wine, we need the widest bowl as it has several layers of complexity which need room to travel. Glasses with a narrower bottom and wider top are suitable for both reds and whites.
5. How much wine to pour in a glass
Resist the temptation to fill it till the brim and leave at least half the glass empty, so that the wine can move freely and release its bouquet of perfumes. There is no standard ml pour in the case of wine. But a good rule of thumb is to pour until you reach the broadest rim of the glass.
For more wine education, visit Sonal Holland Wine TV.