Advice for Students

Wine Evaluation and Etiquette

March 22, 2013  |     |   0 Comment

My husband and I share a passion for food, wine and travel.  We choose many of our vacations based on destinations where we can indulge in these passions.  We recently returned from the beautiful Napa Valley in California where we enjoyed one week of memorable experiences filled with unforgettable food and wine.

During our time in Napa, we had the pleasure of visiting many breath-taking wineries where we gained insight and appreciation for the art and enjoyment of wine, as well as the etiquette surrounding it.

At each of the wineries we visited, we practiced the basics of wine evaluation and etiquette.  I would like to share some of them with you to help enhance your experience the next time you pour yourself a glass of wine:

1.  Let your wine breathe. Allowing your wine to breathe oxidizes the wine which brings out the potential of the flavor. There are several ways that you can do this. You can decant the wine or let it sit in the glass. If you are more anxious or pressed for time, you can also pour it through a Venturi.  This wine apparatus can be purchased at just about any home store.

2.  Hold wine glasses by the stem, not the bowl. This allows you to view and swirl the wine properly. Additionally, the heat from your hands changes the temperature of the wine which is something that is definitely not desired.

3.  Look at the wine to evaluate the colour and clarity.  When drinking red wine, look for colours ranging from deep purple to brick red.  As red wines get older, they generally fade in colour.  White wine, on the other hand, range in colours from lemon gold to golden amber and they usually darken with age.

4.  Swirl the wine. By doing so, the wine in a wine glass is able to aerate and release its aroma.

5.  Smell the wine.  To do so, put your nose in the glass and take a deep breath.  Older wines tend to have a more subtle aroma than younger wines.  We tried to determine if the wines were fruity, earthy or spicy.

6.  Taste the wine.  Take a small sip and subtly swish the wine around.  This helps to release the wine’s aroma and coat your whole mouth.  It’s fun to compare the aromas you smelled versus what you actually taste.

Like art, we all have different tastes and preferences when it comes to wine.  The most important thing when having a glass of wine is to enjoy the experience.  As Ernest Hemingway stated, “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”   Cheers!

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