Wine Tasting 101 – Part Three

Renowned Argentine sommelier, Marcelo Rebole, shares his passion and knowledge with a novice enthusiast about how to begin tasting and appreciating a glass of wine. The following is the third, and final, excerpt of his tutorial.

Sipping the Wine:
“Take a generous sip of wine, lifting your chin, you must direct the liquid to the centre of your tongue. You must close your mouth, and move your tongue like in a French kiss. The wine will finally gain the mouth cavity temperature, and will evaporate the third aroma, the third nose. We need to send those aromas to our throat to get the after taste, so we need to sip some air—avoiding swallowing the liquid, and avoiding leaking as well.

“Never judge a wine on its first sipping. You must try the wine at least three times. The first try is the attack. It’s like life—the first time is not always the best, you need to practice a little to get it. The second sip is the most elegant, and the third one is perfect.

If you are at a cocktail party, or if you are a host, do this only once with each bottle, because you cannot spend the whole night doing this–it’s a snobbish thing. But you must be assured that the wine you are trying is in good shape, because everyone will enjoy or hate the wine you choose. That is the commitment you must take when you are the wine host.

On the one side you will feel the flavours. If the wine has sugar content it is a sweet wine, and the opposite of sweetness is dryness. The wine can be sweet or dry. You will feel the acidity on the sides of your tongue, which is a very important thing, because a wine without acidity is a soulless wine, a flat wine. Acidity transmits the sensation of freshness. And bitterness–bitterness must also be there very slightly, because if not, it’s also an issue, it’s a problem. Of course the wine has a lot of minerals, but you cannot feel any salty flavours. If you can feel salty flavours the wine is gone.

On the other side you also feel tactile sensations: the temperature of the liquid, the alcohol charging the tip of your tongue, the tannin charging reds in your gums. All those things are tactile sensations. In the end, as I told you: the only thing that matters is whether you like it or not. Wine is about pleasure, but you need to know all these concepts to finally understand the message inside of the glass. There is a lot of thought to get to these characteristics. Someone, the winemaker, was checking the quality of the fruit, the capacity, the expression of the place where the wine was made to create this message. If we know how to taste the wines properly, we are going to gain an experience and understand for real what is happening inside each bottle of wine, which is a very interesting thing.

But, as I told you, even with a technically perfect wine: if you don’t like it–trust your own taste. Cheers! Salut!”

(Part One – Handling, Viewing the Wine)
(Part Two – Sniffing the Wine)

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