Are you drinking wine the right way?
It may sound like a silly question, but think about it for a second—when you open a bottle, is it because you have one in the wine rack, or because you know it will enhance your meal?
The truth is, even the most amazing wines aren’t enjoyable when they’re paired with the wrong food because the competing flavors will work against each other. The result: your dining experience won’t be as good as it could be. But when you pair the right foods and wines together, you can create “wow!” moments. Here’s how it works.
The Four Steps Of Wine Tasting
First, let’s go over the four steps of wine tasting.
1. Assess The Wine Visually
After you pour the wine into your glass, assess it visually for clarity and color. The visual assessment of wine is not the most important aspect of wine tasting, but these points are good to know:
- Wine should be clear—not cloudy or murky.
- Wine color tells you everything from grape varietals to the approximate age of a wine (color changes with age).
Write down your thoughts from the visual assessment on your wine tasting notes, and continue to step two.
2. Assess The Body Of The Wine
Now, assess the body of the wine. Take notes on your wine tasting template about the thickness of the wine and how well it sheets to the side of the glass. Your assessment should help answer two questions:
- What is the alcohol content of the wine? Wines can be classified into categories of light, medium, and heavy body, determined by thickness. Fuller-bodied wines typically have more alcohol.
- What is the weight of the wine, and does it match your food pairing? This question is the more important of the two. Assessing the body helps you match the weight of a wine with the weight of food. For example, a cabernet sauvignon shouldn’t be paired with shrimp salad because it would be overpowered; similarly, a pinot grigio or pinot noir shouldn’t be paired with prime rib or mushroom steak because the food would overwhelm and outweigh the wine. By determining the body of the wine, you can match the weight of a wine to a particular food and get a pleasant pairing.
3. Assess The Aroma Of The Wine
Swirl your wine, smell it, and see what flavors you can pick out. Do you sense notes of apples, pear, or citrus? Maybe you detect cherries, smoke, or wet tobacco. Each of these observations help you know what varietal of grape the wine is made from. For example, a chardonnay can typically be identified by notes of Golden Delicious apple and pear, whereas riesling has notes of apricot.
Just as with the assessment of the body, assessing the aroma is important because, if you know a wine’s aromas and flavors, you can pair it well. A red wine with mocha notes is dark and pairs well with something like chocolate-covered espresso beans or tiramisu; if you detect notes of smokiness, foods like barbecue or smoked meat are good options for pairing.
4. Assess The Taste Of The Wine
Finally, determine if the wine is dry or sweet. Swish the wine in your mouth. If you feel it on tip of your tongue as sugary, then you know it has detectable residual sugar, and it is likely an off-dry or sweet wine. If it hits you in the middle of tongue, you have a dry wine. These things are all easy to note on the wine tasting menu template.
Knowing the taste is not only enjoyable—it also helps you correctly pair it with food.
- If you taste a wine and notice the sides of your tongue or mouth watering, you likely have an acidic wine. Avoid pairing acidic wines with sugary sweet foods because the sugars make the wine taste bitter; instead, choose an acidic or fatty food.
- If you taste sugar, you’re free to pair your wine with sweeter things because the food and wine “clash”; the sugars work together and not against one another.
Make The Most Of Your Wine Tasting Experience
Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or a special occasion, hosting a dinner party, enjoying a Wednesday night family dinner, or even having a movie night, pairing the right wine with the right food will enhance the experience. Are you ready to Host a tasting?