Wine Tasting for Noobs

Stellenbosch
Obikwa Wines

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Do "bouquet" or :nose" make you think of flowers and nostrils?
Do "bouquet" or "nose" make you think of flowers and nostrils?
 
Fear not friend, we've got just the thing - a customised wine tasting how to guide! If you know how to appreciate the whole drinking experience, those fancy-pants words won't matter. So, before you next pop open a bottle - read through these wine tasting tips and learn how to roll like a pro.
 
Step 1: The Prep - Get your wine dressed for success
  • Before you take a gulp, check out the wine against a white background so you can really get a squizz at its colour (remember to start your tasting adventure with reds, then move onto whites - your taste buds will thank you).
  • If you're observant, you'll see that white wines range from green to yellow. The more colour in a white wine tells you that it's older and probably has developed more flavour.
  • Red wines range from pale red to deep brown red. As they mature quietly sitting in your cellar, they become lighter in colour.
  • Remember, once you've opened a red wine - let it breathe. No silly, not literally, just to allow that first pungent whiff to die down. Keep in mind: the older your red, the longer you should let it breathe.
  • Contrary to what your la-ti-da friends may say about temperature - red wine shouldn't be served at room temp - it actually comes down to the type and body (amount of flavour). Full bodied reds should be served between 15 - 17 °C, lesser bodied reds between 7 - 12 °C and whites between 6 - 12 °C.
Step 2: Unleash the Nose - its time to get smelly
  • You're going to start looking like a real pro now. Go on, admit it - you've always wanted to swirl your glass of wine - and we'll tell you why. By giving it this posh-looking swirl, you're letting the yummy aromas out.
  • This smell's pretty important - your nose has a chat with your taste buds and together, they whisper to your brain that you either love the flavour combination or you should move onto your next choice.
  • When swirling, look out for “good legs” - not the Cameron Diaz type (sorry boys!) but rather the tear-like tracks that fall down the side of your glass. Good legs mean more intense flavour and higher alcohol content and/or sweetness.
  • Smell your wine - and put effort into it. A big whiff as though you've just run a marathon will do. You'll find younger wines tend to remind you more of fruitiness while older ones strangely smell a lot like things that aren't grapes - like mushroom, truffles, tobacco etc. Such is the mystery of the art of winemaking!
  • Here, there are no wrong deductions - just let your nose do the proverbial talking to find out what you're smelling and let your personal taste decide whether you like the style or not.
Step 3: Taste the Magic
 

Take a medium sized gulp but don't swallow, swish it around your mouth like you're washing your mouth out after brushing your teeth. Things to look out for:

  • Dry/sweet - Many noobs get confused by this term, this just refers to the residual sugar in the wine.
  • Body - This refers to the weight of the wine on your tongue, usually judged on a scale of light to heavy (duh).
  • Flavour intensity - How powerful is the flavour, does it have a kick like an ostrich? Or is it subtle and understated?
  • Finish - Great wines, like good songs, have a long and lasting finishing note, while remaining flavourful and balanced.
Step 4: The After party in Your Mouth
  • When you have tasted the wine spit it out and clear your palate (sounds gross, but that's how it's done). This is important so your palate is clean for the next set of wines that you'll taste.
  • A nice way to cleanse your palate is by nibbling on white bread, French bread, crackers or unflavoured still water.
  • Take 5 mins between each tasting. Give yourself time to savour the flavour and get ready for the next taste explosion.