“What is the definition of a good wine”?

Does this sound familiar…”Very Yummy” or “Lots of fruitiness”.

You can always rely on the trusty aroma wine wheel and decide for yourself. Has anyone had a whiff of “Wet Dog” or Smelly Socks? When you read the tasting notes describing wines you sure wonder how they come up with these descriptions. “ Arrogant Yet Irresistible” “Nose Elements” “Elegant and Spirited” “Long Long Finish” “Engages with an Elegant Length” If you didn’t know any better you would think you these names are describing a day at the race track! When first tasting wines this is what you should be looking for!

Appearance
Colour & Clarity – buttery yellow like an aged Chardonnay.

Is the wine bright and clear or does it seem cloudy? To evaluate a wine’s appearance, hold a half-full glass of wine by the stem and tilt it away from you or against a white background, such as a tablecloth, and observe the wine’s color and clarity. It should be brilliant, rather than murky, and its color should be appropriate for its type and age. Good Wines have serious visual appeal.
White wines range from water colour to a dramatic deep gold. As white wine ages it becomes darker in colour and may even become a golden yellow colour. A young red is the opposite of white wine. Its deepest colour occurs when it is young. As it ages it loses some of its intensity, changing to a reddish brown or amber colour.

Aroma / Bouquet
The aroma’s should jump right out of the glass and entice you!

The most important and revealing aspect of a wine’s personality and quality is its smell. Did you know that your nose can distinguish between 5,000 different smells? Since your tongue has only four different types of taste buds, it relies heavily on your nose to give it as much information as possible. Try to identify the odors you perceive. Some of the aroma’s you might smell are of various fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices (e.g., apple, melon, citrus, cherry, berry, honey, peach, mint, bell pepper, grass, green olive, clove, licorice, cedar, etc.).

After swirling place your nose in the glass and take a deep sniff. Think about what you smell keeping in mind that no smells are specific to wine they are all related to other flavours. You may notice the tartness of a young dry white wine, for instance, or the astringency of a full-bodied young red. Some varieties, like riesling, chenin blanc, and gewürztraminer, are especially fruity, if not literally sweet, while a strapping young cabernet sauvignon may taste very dry and even bitter. To fully appreciate a wine’s aroma, gently swirl it in your glass. The aroma should be clean and fresh, with the characteristic scents associated with the variety (e.g., apple with chardonnay, melon and citrus with sauvignon blanc, cherry and blackcurrant with cabernet sauvignon, blackberry and black pepper with zinfandel, etc.), perhaps accented by the toasty, vanilla, or spicy scents imparted by the barrels it was aged in.

Taste
After smelling are your taste buds crying out “ hurry up and let me taste the wine?”

For beginners, it is easier to place the glass on the table, or hold it by the stem, and swirl the wine around making sure you do not spill it all over yourself, especially the reds! The swirling action creates friction and causes the wine’s esters to evaporate. The esters inside the wine carry the wine’s aroma. Take a small mouthful and swirl it around so the wine coats your entire mouth. Next tilt your head forward and draw just a little air into your mouth, as though you were sucking on a straw. This should make a bit of a gurgling sound in the back of your throat. It is important for you to coat your mid palate, as this is the area you still taste after the initial rush of flavour subsides.

We can perceive combinations of only four tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. These sensations are localized in taste buds on different parts of the tongue: sweetness on the tip, with acidity and bitterness on the sides and to the rear. The finish is the taste that stays on your palate after the wine has been swallowed. A great wine continues ensuing wave’s and sensations long after you taste it.

I remember a local winemaker describing a good finish like a first kiss, flirty and flavourful that you have waited for and will remember for a long time! I like to say a good wine is like “Happiness inside your mouth!” The only real lesson in wine tasting is “Do you just like it” or “Do you love it”?

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Special Event Planner at the Winter Festival of Lights working for the Niagara Parks Commission and city of Niagara Falls then an Event Planner in Niagara Wine Country for over 20 years. I love what I do and it's all about you!

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