Wednesday, December 21, 2005

See, smell, sip, swirl, swallow (or spit), summarize

A recent article in the Wine Spectator provided useful tips about how to taste wine. It pointed to four or five "S" words that you need to go through to appreciate a wine. I think I have actually lost that edition, but the point is a very good one. I liked the principle, and I have reconstructed the thought here.

  • SEE Take a good look at the wine. How does the color compare to other wines? Darker or lighter? Is it clear or cloudy? Look at it in the glass. Does it seem visous and drip down the glass like oil? Or does it have a watery movement against the glass. Hold the wine up to a light to get a better look.
  • SMELL Take the time to sniff. Is it a nice smell? Nothing rotten? What does the smell remind you of? (Talk about it to your wine drinking companion.)
  • SIP Tast the wine slowly. What is your first impression? What flavors does it remind you of? Have you tasted something like this before?
  • SWIRL Make the wine touch every part of your tongue? Different parts of the tongue register different flavors.
  • SWALLOW (or SPIT) Then what happens? Does the flavor linger? What is the after-taste like? Pleasant? Or do you detect something nasty?
  • SUMMARIZE Put your impressions into words. Don't worry about sounding silly. This is very tough to do -- I suspect language was around before wine was, and language simply is not a very efficient tool to talk about wine, but it is all we have!
Those are actually six "S" words. Since I have taken the time to go through each of these steps pretty systematically, I think my enjoyment of wine has increased. I suspect that people don't enjoy wine as much as they might simply because they don't take the time to focus on what they are drinking.
Try this and see if it makes a difference. It works for me!

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