Beyond ‘Mmm, that's nice’: Wine Appreciation
Start just by looking. What does the colour of the wine tell you? How does its surface cling to the edges of the glass – a clue to texture and alcohol content? What qualities do the bubbles at the edge have just after pouring?
Now give it a swirl to see how it runs down the inside of the glass. Does it leave trails on the glass? (It must be a very clean glass!)
A good wine taster can tell a lot from these simple activities, before even taking a sniff. He or she will probably have got as far as having an educated guess at the grape variety and the wine’s country of origin.
They will then get their schnoz into the top of the glass and inhale. Did you know that wine tasting glasses get narrower towards the top so as to concentrate the aroma? And that the best ‘noses’ (wine experts with a very good sense of smell and considerable experience) can command top salaries?
The aroma will tell a rich story to a knowledgeable taster, confirming their initial guesses or offering an unexpected surprise, maybe in the form of off notes that suggest errors in the wine’s production or storage. Even the ground the vines grew in (terroir) will come through to a good taster: flinty, chalky sandy, well-drained or not so well-drained.
A swig, swill, gurgle and spit (or swallow!) is the final stage, yielding more information about the wine’s quality and leading to some conclusions.
But we’re talking about experts here. How can the rest of us get a foot on the ladder of wine appreciation with the basics and start on the path to wine expertise? Gaining some knowledge of grape varieties, production methods and geographic wine-producing regions is useful to bartenders, waiters, chefs and grocery store employees. It can also lead to a career as a sommelier – a wine expert who specialises in wine and food pairing and usually works in fine restaurants. A good sommelier is on a par with the head chef in terms of strategic importance to the establishment.
IOA’s Wine Appreciation Course provides an introduction to all aspects of wine production, varieties, the etiquette of wine tasting and how to score a wine. It covers wine storage, wine regions of the world, classic food pairings, how to get a broken cork out of a bottle without spoiling the wine, and a detailed overview of how wine is produced and the factors that influence its quality (or lack of).
Online and with instant access, this course can turn curiosity into substantial knowledge in a matter of hours. Cheers!