HOW TO HOST AN EXCEPTIONAL WINE TASTING PARTY
Pop those corks and let the party commence!
But before we get on to tasting there are a few things you and your guests can do to aid your enjoyment of the wine…
HOLDING THE GLASS – BY THE STEM
By holding the glass by the stem you keep the wine at the right temperature, it will not be warmed up by the heat of your hands – it should be served chilled if white and just under room temperature if red.
Also, by holding the glass by the stem you get a better look at the wine.
LOOKING AND SWIRLING
We can learn so much about the wine just by looking and swirling the wine around in the glass.
Age – red wine tends to lose colour with age – changing from dark, rich purples to lighter, bricky reds. White wines do the opposite - they gain colour moving from light, pale lemony whites to a deeper gold.
Alcohol content – “more legs, more legless” if you swirl the wine around in the glass you will see a film form on the inside. From the top of this film, “legs” or “tears” will drop, the more you see of these droplets, the higher the alcohol content.
Smelling – Our noses are essential in helping us appreciate wine. Without the help of our noses we cannot assess flavour. Our tongues can only sense four things –
Acidity - on the side of the tongue and gums
Bitterness - at the back of the tongue
Sweetness - at the tip of the tongue
Saltiness - in the centre
Which is why when we have a cold and our noses are blocked we crave sweet and acidic drinks like honey and lemon to stimulate our tongues. So giving the wine a good sniff will help us tune into the flavours when we taste. Think about whether the wine smells of fruits –, or vegetables? Or coffee? Or chocolate? Or spices like cinnamon or vanilla?
By drawing air in over the wine and by moving it around in our mouths (like gargling backwards) we coat all the tongue and the gums and we also stimulate our noses via the back of the throat to help us understand aroma/flavour.
By tasting the wine like this it emphasises all the different qualities in the wine – whether it is very acidic, or if it feels light or heavy. Light wines feel like orange squash in the mouth, heavier wines feel more like Tropicana… without the bits.
It’s like turning up the volume on the wine. You wouldn’t slurp through the whole glass, but it’s nice just to help get a feel for what the wine is all about.
OTHER POINTS TO NOTICE
Do you feel the back of your mouth heat up a little? That will be the alcohol and could be showing the wine is quite high in alcohol.
Do you still taste the wine after you have swallowed? If you can, think about how long that flavour lasts and if it develops or changes – do you notice new flavours? The longer this flavour lasts the higher the quality of the wine, so this too is an important stage for your assessment of the wine.
Do the wines work well with food? Do you prefer the wines with the food, do you notice any different flavours coming through?
BUT ALL OF THIS ASIDE, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!…
>>> Do you like the wine? <<<
Photo by Ingrid Hofstra on Unsplash