If you enjoy wine and your friends enjoy wine, a casual wine tasting can be a great way to enjoy wine together and test each other's palates. You can hold blind tastings if you really want to test your skills and the skills of your friends, or you can just get together and try out the different types of wines that you and your friends enjoy.
Many formal wine tastings do not allow you to swallow the wine. The tasting is simply to get the taste, smell the bouquet and enjoy the overall experience of the wine. At your casual tasting you can feel free to allow your guests to drink the wine, but there may be sobriety issues if you do this. It is also important to realize that you may not get the full flavor and effect of the wine as you get deeper into the tastings.
Either way that you perform your tasting you will want to have clean glasses for each person and each bottle. You will also need a clean white tablecloth. The white tablecloth will allow you to get a good view of the wine. The tablecloth allows you to see the wine's body and any sediment that may be in the glass from an aged wine. Candlelight will also allow you to see the wine clearly and any sediment that may be in the bottle or decanter. Clean glasses are extremely important, as any residue in the glass will cause your wine to have an impure taste.
To help keep the event easy, ask your guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine. You may also need them to bring their own glasses if you do not have enough. You will also need some crackers or bread to help cleanse the palate as well as room temperature water. Cold water will shock your taste buds.
You will want to decant your red wines. If you cannot decant them all at once, you may want to pour a small amount in each glass and allow them to breathe a bit. The more air contact the wine has, the better they will taste. You may also choose to explore the difference that decanting makes. Taste the wine at ten and fifteen minute intervals. White and blush wine should be chilled slightly before serving.
When you taste your wines, it is a good idea to have a paper and pencil available so that your guests can take notes and rank their wines. You will also want to start with lighter and simpler wines and then move on to the drier and heavier wines. You will not taste your white wines as well as if you drink the heavier and dry wines first. If you must reuse a glass, swirl some water around in it and dry it with a clean cloth so that the water does not dilute the wine.
Begin by looking at the wine and observing its clarity and color. A wine is judged on its color, aroma and taste. Hold the wine up to a light and note the color of the wine. The wine should also appear to be clear and cloudy. Next, tip the glass slightly and swirl it gently. The wine flows around the glass and if the wine clings and dribbles down the side in "legs" or stripes, this mean that the wine is a medium bodied wine. If the wine forms a sheet, it is a full-bodied wine.
Next, tip the glass and swirl the wine around while holding it a little bit away from your nose. This helps to increase the amount of scent that is available for your nose to smell. Inhale the wine deeply and then move it away, this will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the aroma. You may be able to smell fruit, yeast, grass, or earth in the wine.
The last step is to taste the wine. Take a small sip and push it up in front of your mouth and then inhale through your teeth. Slosh the wine around in your mouth and cover your tongue with it. You are going to want to taste the predominant tastes at first and then the secondary tastes that appear. Is the wine's taste complex? Does it have a wood-taste?
Take a moment between wines to rinse your mouth and take a bite of unsalted crackers or bread. This will help to clear the taste from the previous wines. If you hold a blind tasting, place the bottles in brown bags or remove the labels. Have your guests make notes and guess what the varietals and brands are.
Wine tastings don't have to be formal affairs. They can be very casual and you can have a lot of fun with it. There are even wine tasting kits that you can buy to supply you with the necessary bags, tags and other wine information that you may need.
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