Thursday, September 27, 2007

Four Steps to Improving Your Palate

How to Improve Your Wine Tasting Skills

Step One: Train Yourself to Taste Wine

Gary Vaynerchuk is making the rounds of late night TV with bowls full of dirt and tobacco, but you really don’t have to go that far to discover the aromas and flavors in the your favorite wine’s tasting notes. Read my article ‘Seven Ways to Develop Your Wine ‘Palate’’ here:

Step Two: Learn to Taste Like a Pro

Wine tasting can be a sample as enjoying a glass on the deck at sunset or as complicating as judging flights of wines in a wine competition. If you’d like to get more enjoyment out of every glass of wine, do what the professionals do:

To full appreciate a wine’s flavor, inhale, take a sip, roll the liquid around in your mouth, coating your taste buds, and exhale through your nose before swallowing. If you are feeling brave, purse your lips in a small ‘o’ shape and inhale a little air, running it over the wine in your mouth, then exhale that air through your nose. After you swallow, note how long the taste of the wine stays in your mouth. This is called the wine’s ‘finish.’

Taste white wine before red wine, light bodied before full bodied wine, ‘still’ (regular) wine before sweeter ‘dessert’ wine.

Taste wine at the correct temperature, 50 – 60 degrees for whites, 55 – 65 degrees for rose, and 62 – 68 degrees for reds.

Don’t put on cologne/perfume or brush your teeth before drinking wine.

Instead of just drinking the wine, practice the 5 S’s of wine tasting – See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor.

Step Three: Pop Some Corks

This is a fun way to have an evening in with friends. Go to your local wine shop and ask for suggestions for a ‘sample case’ of wine. Choose one bottle of oaked Chardonnay, unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, off dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, fruit-bomb Merlot, old world Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz. Divvy the list up among your friends, and have your new ‘Wine Tasting Club’ get together over the course of a few weeks to sample 4-6 wines at a time. Taste, and then try to describe what you are tasting using the flavors you remember from Step One’s exercise.

Step Four: Practice Makes Perfect

Learning about wine can take a lifetime; here are some fun ideas to get you on your way:
Take your results from the wine tasting in Step Three and ask your local wine shop to put together a second case of wine for your personal use. Drink these wines over the next few months and choose which ones are your favorites.

Follow your favorite wine around the world, trying versions from different countries.
Rent a wine-related educational video from Netflix or your local library.

Consider joining a wine group. and are great resources for finding local wine lovers.

Pick up some books from the library on wine and food pairing and try different wines with family meals.

Host a wine and dessert or wine and cheese tasting party at your home. Some great tips for wine party hosts are here:


Wulf said...

Thanks Kathleen.

FatBanker said...

Thanks for the post Kathleen. I'm interested in improving my palate, but also with the concept of being able to improve how one perceives tastes, not just idetifies flavours!