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Wine Tasting - How Is It Done?

You’ve ordered a bottle of wine by mail or direct delivery and it has arrived. Put it in a cool and shaded place for a few days to relax. When you taste the wine, it should be at 18–22 degrees Celsius.

Before exposing the wine, it’s best to open the bottle with a decanter or a special instrument that sucks the air out as the wine is poured. Have a thin-stemmed glass ready. Hold the glass by the stem, open the bottle, pour out the wine, and let your sense of smell go to work….

   

Sense of Smell

A very important sense in tasting wine. It’s also our most developed sense. We can distinguish only four flavors—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter (to be more exact, five flavors, including umami)—but we can sense hundreds of varieties of scents. When you have a stuffed nose, no dish or delicacy has any flavor at all….

A professional winemaker tastes wine by smelling it. Scents such as blueberry, cherry, blackberry, raspberry, tobacco, etc., in red wines, or lemon, lime, fruit, mineral, herbal, and so on, in white wines are attempts to describe in words all those scents and shades of scents that we encounter in wine.

After getting your first whiff of the wine, hold the glass by its stem and roll the wine around in it. This exposes the wine to air and amplifies its scents. If you smell something unpleasant such as vinegar, acetone, medicine, or sulfur, it means the wine has gone bad.

Apart from the basic requirement that the wine should have an pleasant and sufficiently strong scent, we are interested in finding scents that are typical of the variety of grape from which it was produced, the way it was produced, and its nature.

We distinguish between two types of scents in wine. The first is the aroma, which comes from the grapes themselves. An aroma may be fruity, flowery, minerally, or spicy. The second is the bouquet—a scent derived from the aging of the wine in the barrel and the bottle. Wines aged in barrels will develop, in addition to an aroma, complex scents such as vanilla, smoke, clove, soil, tobacco, coffee, roasted almonds, and various spices.


   

Sense of Vision

Our sense of vision gives us an indication of the age of the wine or faults in the way it was produced.

First we check the wine for clearness. Murkiness or sediments in wine, even if they are not bad for your health, mean that the wine is old—possibly too old—or that something went wrong as it was being produced. Exceptions to this are wines that were not filtered before bottling. These are usually superlative wines that need no filtering due to their high quality and their ability to age naturally.

We also check the color of the wine. The best way to do this is to tilt the glass 45 degrees over a white table, a white tablecloth, or a white piece of paper, and to inspect the edges of the wine in the glass. A brownish color is a sign of relatively old wine, both red and white. This aside, the color of the wine should match its nature and the way it was produced. The color of a Chardonnay that was aged in oak barrels will be different, for example, than that of a Chardonnay that did not go to the aging process. Calev’s Field wines have a bold purple color that tends to black.


   

Sense of Taste

Of course, this is the most important of the senses that participate in the tasting. Interestingly enough, however, usually the flavor of a wine is directly connected with its aroma. When we get to the tasting stage, we take a not-too-large sip of the wine, hold it a while, and slosh it around the mouth and over the tongue. Different parts of our mouths detect different flavors and sensations. Also, it is good to inhale a little air at this time in order to develop additional flavors.

As you taste the wine, try to detect several properties. The first is sweetness. Sensed in the front of the tongue, sweetness comes from residues of sugar and fruity sensations. The second is acidity, a “lemony” sensation on the sides of the tongue that serves as a counterbalance to the sweetness. This sensation should be stronger in white wine than in red wine. The third is tannins, a sensation of unripe fruit. Strong tanninity will give you the feeling of sucking in your cheeks. The last is alcohol; sometimes you can taste it as it spreads a warm sensation in your mouth.

Now we ask how strong, complex, and interesting the flavors of the wine are. Is the wine smooth and velvety and are its flavors bold, or does it leave a watery sensation in your mouth? We examine the acidity and sweetness of the wine. In wines from Calev’s Field, you can taste the cherries from the nearby grove….

The last question is: Did you like the wine, its development, and the amount of time that its flavor continued to develop in your mouth? Also check the aftertaste and how long it lasts after you swallow. How long does it leave its sensations and flavors behind? The longer the aftertaste lingers, the better the quality of the wine.

Whenever you taste wine, keep in mind the balance and combination among color, aroma, and flavors.


Sense of Touch

Here we examine the thickness of the wine in the mouth, or what the professionals call its “body.” Full-bodied wine will give you a sense of thickness as you taste it. We aren’t interested in obtaining a full-bodied effect from every wine, but in the heaviest and highest-quality red wines it’s an advantage. Such wines will fill your mouth with the fullness of their flavor until you’d sometimes like to literally bite into them.

Le’chaim!