Wine tasting in Stellenbosch

After receiving a complimentary wine tasting at the Spier Hotel, Vineyard and Spa, I thought it best to share some of the simple wine tasting tips I learnt with you. Turns out it’s not that difficult to really taste your wine and know what’s in it! By applying these simple tips below, you’ll quickly know more about what’s in your glass and sound like an elite wine professional.

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#1 Know your glass

The tasting glass is a very important choice in wine tasting as this will influence your overall taste experience. The ideal glasses are those that have a large bowl and which are narrow at the top, allowing for aromas to be trapped in the glass and for correct passage into your mouth, allowing you to get a balance of flavors.

 

#2 Look at the clarity

Before you can begin swirling or tasting, you’ve got to look at the clarity of your wine. Is it bright and clear, hazy or sparkling? A good wine should be bright and clear. If it is murky, even in the slightest bit, that’s not a good sign. If the wine has been recently bottle (or if it is a sparkly wine) it will have small bubbles in it.

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#3 Look at the color

Swirl your wine a little and make a note of the color. Look at the variety of shades from the center of the glass to the rim where the surface of the wine meets the glass. The darker the shade of wine, the more aged it is, especially with white wines. However, late harvests and wooded wines can also be dark too. Red wines may have a brown tinge at the edge if they are aged.

  

#4 Swirl your wine to release the aromas

The main reason behind gently swirling your wine in the glass is to release the full aroma. Swirling lets in some oxygen, and together with the wine, releases its true aromas. After you have given it a gentle swirl, place your nose near or into the glass and have a good sniff.

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#5 Swirl your wine and look at the viscosity

If your wine takes time to run down the glass, then it has a high viscosity and a much higher alcohol content and is regarded as being more full bodied wine.

 

#6 Take a good sip

Its common to take a small petite-like sip but don’t. Take a good mouthful and let it wash around over all of your mouth and tongue. This way you’ll be able to taste for all kinds of flavors be it sweet, sour, bitter or salty. Depending on which grape varieties are used, where they are grown and how the wine is fermented will all add to the taste variety. For example, wines grown close to the sea will have a delicious kelp-like mineral taste. Younger wines will have a more acidic taste while slightly older wines may be less acidic and allow for the fruit tastes to power through. Try and take in some air when you sip your wine (almost like slurping). This allows for more oxygen to enter and you get to smell and taste your wine at the same time.

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#7 is there really strawberries and chocolate in my wine?

This completely blew my mind because I always thought that those wonderful descriptions on the side of the bottle really meant that wine was made with all sorts of delicious goodies in addition to grapes and yeast. No. I was wrong.  It really has to do with the chemistry of wine making and the actual process in which it is made. For example, the chosen grape variety will affect the taste but so will the oak barrels in which it is stored and the length of the fermentation process as well.

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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