MAH ZEH Enjoying Wine
Selecting, Tasting and Serving
There are many ways to select wines, but it all boils down to three ways: go with what you know, live a little or ask for help. There is nothing wrong with going with what you know. There are no surprises, you know what to expect and your satisfaction is guaranteed. Living a little should be exercised cautiously, start with varietals that you know and like and explore different regions and countries. Or, start with a certain region and expand your varietals or blends. Either way, you may hit or miss, but at the end of the day you are sure to learn a little. When in doubt, ask for help. Start by developing a relationship with a retailer or wine maker and trust that they will stir you inthe right direction.
Tasting wine is an all senses experience. Take your time and engage your senses. Use the six S’s as your guide: See, Swirl, Smell and Sip.
See the color and clarity of the wine as you regard it in the glass.
To release the aroma, gently swirl the wine in your glass. This mixes oxygen into the wine and releases the fragrance.
Much of wine's pleasure is in the aroma, which comes from the grapes, and reflects the wine making process. After swirling, immediately place your nose close to the opening of the glass. Gently sniff the wine making note of your first impressions.
Take a medium-sized and hold it in your mouth for about three to five seconds. Gently draw air through your teeth to direct aromas to the nasal passages. Note any tartness or sweetness. Four sensations - sweet, sour, bitterness and salt - are all perceived through taste. Notice the taste and the "texture" - how it feels in your mouth, from light and refreshing to full and robust.
When it comes to serving temperature, a wine should be just right. Too hot and the wine’s alcohol will be emphasized, leaving it flat and flabby. Too cold and the aromas and flavors will be muted and, for reds, the tannins may seem harsh.
- Light dry white wines, rosés, sparkling wines: Serve at 40° to 50° F to preserve their freshness and fruitiness. Think crisp Pinot Grigio and Champagne.
- Full-bodied white wines and light, fruity reds: Serve at 50° to 60° F to pick up more of the complexity and aromatics of a rich Chardonnay or to make a fruity Beaujolais more refreshing.
- Full-bodied red wines and Ports: Serve at 60° to 65° F—cooler than most room temperatures and warmer than ideal cellaring temperatures—to make the tannins feel more supple and de-emphasize bitter components.
Wine glasses vary in size, shape and design, but good ones will be clear and unadorned (so you can view the color and clarity of the wine), not too thick (so the glass doesn't obstruct your contact with the wine), and with a stem long enough so you can hold the glass without handling the bowl (which raises the temperature of the liquid).
Decanting a young wine (one with no sediment) is easy: Just pour it into the decanter. Let it sit for twenty minutes or so before you serve it, and you'll likely notice a dramatic increase in refinement and complexity. If you have the luxury of time, continue tasting the wine over a period of hours. It may keep evolving and improving.
With older wines, decanting may serve two purposes. Clearing sediments that may have been accumulated on the bottom of the bottle, and allowing the wine to clear its head (get rid of off odors). Decanting should be done right before consumption.