Wine Tasting - The Sense of Taste
After observing your wine using the sense of sight and smell, it is then time to use your palate to identify tastes. This is far more detailed than simply tasting as we would any other beverage. We must remember to note the characteristics of the wine on all sensory areas of the tongue. Sweetness is detected on the very tip of the tongue, while bitter tastes are sensed in the extreme rear. Saltiness is sensed on the front, upper sides of the tongue, and the acidity-sour taste is sensed mainly on the sides. Some suggest focusing your attention on one sensation at a time in order to be more efficient in your taste. Try taking a sip of wine and swallowing immediately. Then try another sip, this time letting the wine work well around the palate into these sensory areas before swallowing. You will recognize a noticeable difference in the intensity of flavors!
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Wine Tasting - The Sense of Sight
Wine tasting basics begin with knowing how to use your senses to understand, interpret, and enjoy the wine. The ability to recognize what you see, and furthermore describe it in clear terms, is a very important wine tasting skill.
Although some may say the appearance of the wine is the least important aspect with regard to the senses, it is still worth noting. When examining appearance, we are looking for clarity and color. We want the wine to be free of any sediment, leaving it clear and brilliant. Red wines tend to lose their color as they mature, while white wines tend to grow darker with age. A good quality wine generally will be intense in color. The "legs" seen running down the sides of a glass after being swirled, are an indication of flavor density. It is best to use a plain white background, and tilt the glass slightly as you observe clarity and color.
Wine Tasting - The Sense of Touch
Touch is an important category of taste sensation. This is where we try to feel the wine on the palate. Here we seek to find impressions of such things as texture, body, temperature, and astringency. The aftertaste, finish, and length of a wine are all things we feel on our palate. We are looking for how the wine feels in weight (light, medium, full) and texture (silky, coarse, velvety). Try to observe how long the sensations last in your mouth. Most will tell you the longer it lasts, the better the wine!
Locals - A Collective Tasting Room
Come visit us at Locals located at the gateway to Alexander Valley in the once sleepy hamlet of Geyserville. Locals is a collective tasting room featuring the wines of 6 local boutique wineries. Taste over 30 unique wines from talented and noted neighborhood winemakers. These are small-scale producers making premium quality and hard to find award-winning wines.
While sampling these unique selections, discover the works of area black and white photographers, listen to music from local Sonoma Country musicians and be intrigued by Locals whimsical collection of art moderne wine accessories. It all combines to create an eclectic and tasty environment.
If you plan on becoming a serious wine collector, including wines requiring long-term aging, you may want to invest in a fully outfitted wine cellar. A variety of companies offer the building blocks of cellars, such as wine racks, refrigeration units, humidifiers, etc.
Red wines should be served at cool room temperature (55 to 65 F.), with lighter, fruitier reds (e.g., Beaujolais and Pinot Noir), at the lower range and fuller-bodied varieties ( e.g., Cabernet, Zinfandel and Syrah, at the upper range.
Certain conditions may dictate exceptions to these rules. On a hot days, for example, it's a good idea to slightly chill a full-bodied red to mitigate its alcoholic "heat," which is more evident when the ambient temperature is high. Conversely, it may be advisable to serve an especially rich white wine at close to room temperature to ensure its complex aromas and flavors can be fully appreciated.
Extracting the Cork
There are many different kinds of corkscrews, ranging from simple screw devices that require the user to do all the physical work of extraction to high-tech models that, to some degree, replace human exertion with mechanical function.
Popular, inexpensive models include the waiter's corkscrew, so-called because it’s the favorite of waiters around the world. It consists of a plated metal handle about 4" in length with a slender, fold-out screw in the middle and a small knife to cut the cork’s plastic or tin capsule. At one end of the handle is a 2" fold-out attachment that serves as a fulcrum for the extraction of the cork. After inserting the screw into the middle of the cork, place the recessed end of this piece firmly against the lip of the neck of the bottle. Then, using the attachment as a support to put counter-pressure on the bottle neck, pull up to remove the cork. After removing the cork, wipe the lip of the bottle with a damp cloth.
There are other inexpensive corkscrews, but most have one or more weaknesses. For example, some wine cork pullers have overly large screws that tend to shred the cork, while others, like the two-pronged versions, can push loose corks down into the bottle.
If you prefer a more modern, mechanical device, the best choice is probably one of the many models of the Screwpull
-- devices with supports that brace themselves against the bottle while the cork comes out with a twist.
Wine glasses vary in size, shape and design, but good ones will be clear and unadorned (so you can view the color
and clarity of the wine), not too thick (so the glass doesn't obstruct your contact with the wine), and with a stem
long enough so you can hold the glass without handling the bowl (which raises the temperature of the liquid).
Most table wines are served in moderately-sized (8-10 oz.) glasses, while dessert wines fare better in smaller (6 oz.) glasses, and sparkling wines require a taller, more slender glass known as a champagne flute, which keeps the bubbles from dissipating. You can buy quality glasses in each of these basic categories for about $5 each.
For true connoisseurs willing to spend more, there are glasses specifically designed to highlight the attributes
of different wine types. The most famous producer of such glassware is Georg Riedel, an Austrian whose collections
of crystal stemware are favored by restaurateurs and professional wine tasters throughout the world.
Unfinished white wines, tightly corked and refrigerated, should maintain their character for up to four days, while reds will begin to degrade after 48 hours. (You can extend this slightly by refrigerating reds too, but then you have to warm them to room temperature before serving.)
There are various ways to extend the life of a wine after it’s opened, most of which involve purging the bottle of oxygen. Two inexpensive devices are the Vacu-Vin®, which pumps air from the bottle and seals it with a rubber gasket and Private Preserve®, a canister of nitrogen you spray into the bottle to displace the oxygen. Both will add a few days to the wine’s life.
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