What better way to pass the time on a quarantined Friday or Saturday night than with a little happy hour wine tasting. I mean, if we can’t go out to happy hour, why not get a few friends on a Zoom call and share a glass of wine (or two) and enjoy the company? In today’s video I’d like to talk about some simple ways to taste wine and what to look for when buying wine.
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Opening a wine bottle
Okay, first things first, Let me show you how to open a bottle. There’s lots of different bottle openers and corkscrews out there, but my personal favorite is called the “Waiter’s Corkscrew” or a “Wine Key”. Specifically one with a double hinge. There’s a small blade on the backside for cutting the foil, and of course the screw inside. Now, just for the record, I’m not a Sommelier although I have thought about it, but I’ve opened a lot of wine bottles. Not only for myself, but I used to work at a busy winery in the tasting room, so every few minutes I was opening another bottle.
Anyway, there’s a few ways you can do this and it’s pretty self-explanatory, but if the foil is loose, you can just grab it and twist it right off, or you can take the blade and cut the foil. You can either cut it along the top edge of the bottle, or do what I do and cut underneath the bottom edge all the way around.
Once you remove the foil, poke the corkscrew in the center of the cork and turn it all the way in. If you’re new at this, feel free to do it on a table surface or countertop. Use the first hinge to pull the cork half way out, then use the second hinge to pull it all the way out. The reason I don’t like using single hinge openers is because they bend the cork and cause it to break. The double hinge opener doesn’t break the cork and as a bonus, mastering a wine key like this makes you look like a sexy beast.
Swirling the wine
Now, today we’re only talking about red wines, so if you’d like me to make another video specifically talking about white wines, please let me know in the comments. Most red wines will benefit from being decanted, but if you don’t have one, that’s fine. You can open the bottle and let it sit for a while, or you can swirl the wine in your glass. Contrary to popular opinion, swirling the wine in your glass is not pretentious, it’s allowing more air into the wine, and also allowing the inside of the glass to be coated with the wine which helps the aromatics.
When you swirl the wine around the inside of the glass, the alcohol evaporates and that’s a lot of what you’re smelling, but you’re also left with some of the wine that sticks and starts to drip down, otherwise known as “Legs”. Sweet wines tend to behave a lot like syrup and the tears or “Legs” will drip down very slowly.
Smelling the wine
Now, moving on smelling. Guys, this doesn’t have to be complicated at all. But when you’re smelling the wine, just try to notice whether or not the wine is aromatic and jumping out of the glass, or if it’s less aromatic where you have to search for something. Also, when you’re smelling the wine, keep it simple at first and just try to pick up maybe one or two things that it reminds you of. Keep in mind, there are no wrong answers here.
Try to identify different types of fruit. For example, cherry, plum, or blackberry. Also try to determine whether or not those fruits smell ripe, or overly ripe, or even tart. Sometimes you might get the scent of sweet strawberry or tart plum or raspberry. Again, there’s no wrong answers. A lot of the times some more popular white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll smell apple, citrus, pear, lemon peel or even fresh cut grass.
Tasting the wine
Okay, it’s time to get this wine in your mouth. When tasting, take a good size sip in your mouth and swish it around so the wine comes in contact with your entire palate. Different parts of your palate are in charge of different sensations like bitterness and sweetness. Once it’s covered your palate for a few seconds, swallow it and breathe in and out a few times. Try to focus more on the structure of the wine and make a determination whether it’s a sweet wine or a dry wine. Also try to distinguish the level of tannins in the wine.
Tannins are that sort of sandpaper feeling inside your mouth where it almost sucks your mouth closed and makes your lip stick to your teeth. It’s almost like there’s sandpaper on your tongue and when you move your tongue across the roof of your mouth it’s sort of feels gritty and astringent. That’s the tannins. Tannins in wine actually come from the grape skins, seeds, and also stems. Tannins also act as a natural preservative which helps some red wines age so well.
Now, try to assess whether it’s a big, bold, flavorful wine, or if it’s a more light and smooth wine that doesn’t go crazy on your palate. Oh, and by the way, that burning sensation in the back of your throat when you swallow? That’s the alcohol. You can actually assess the level of alcohol in the wine by gauging that feeling in the back of your throat.
Now, besides all this and probably most importantly, do you like the wine? Because if you don’t like it, you don’t like it and that’s perfectly fine. A lot of people that are new to wine tend to prefer the more sweet wines and go from there. Now, I do want to leave you with one final tip that’s almost guaranteed to help you enjoy your wine more. Okay, if you’re drinking a nice full bodied, bold wine Cabernet from Napa Valley, get yourself some regular flavor beef jerky or some dark chocolate or both. Take a sip of wine, swallow it, and while there’s still some of the wine flavor in your mouth, take a bite of beef jerky or the chocolate and chew it up and let it marinate on your palate. This changes the entire flavor dynamic with your wine and you end up with this incredible flavor bomb in your mouth. Try it and let me know your thoughts down in the comments.
Practice makes perfect
The more you practice tasting, the better you’ll get at identifying certain things and learning what you like and what you don’t. Guys, I hope you liked this one and I want to thank you very much for watching and also Wine Access for sponsoring this video. Make sure you hit the link to get 15% off your order. Thanks again for being here and I’ll see you in a few days for a brand new video, but until then, stay healthy, live well and I’ll see you soon.