A second helping of tasting tips

I got quite a few responses to my "how to taste wine" article (well, I call four responses "quite a few") so I thought I'd really put the pedal to the metal and continue on with the thought.

It is not an easy thing to try to taste wine effectively or to understand what is going on in a glass of wine. The first clue to tasting wine, strangely enough, does not start with the glass but with the condition of the bottle.

Bottle condition can really give one a clue as to what condition the wine will be in. For example, if the wine has a recessed capsule, the enclosure surrounding the neck of the bottle, this will indicate a serious problem with the vino. A dip in the capsule at the end of the bottle will indicate that the cork has dried out. This drying out of the cork will allow air to enter the bottle (yikes!) and cause an oxidation problem which will lead, in most cases, to a sherry hit in the wine. This is why, among other reasons, so many winemakers are going to the screw-off cap or the other non-cork enclosures.

If the wine has a faded label, we can surmise with some certainty that the wine has seen some exposure to daylight or high intensity lighting. Either way, we will probably be tasting a "cooked" wine, called a Maderized wine. This "cooked" taste is not unlike barbeque potato chips in flavor without the salt.

Heat and sunlight will do a lot of damage to wine in a relatively short period of time. There are many times when I am called upon to evaluate personal or commercial cellars, where I find these kinds of off-putting taste sensations and the wine bottles had indicated the problems before the wine hit the old snifter.

As far as putting the nose in the glass, it is good to know that all of your very nice wine glasses should be cleaned by hand without using scented soaps. Scented soaps are the scourge of the wine taster and are insidious because so many soaps and detergents use some sort of "freshener" and can really taint a glass of wine. I remember judging at a state fair when all of the wines had a hint of lavender! The offending soap was removed but, to my amazement and horror, it took many washes before the glasses got back in balance. Putting your wine glasses into the dishwasher with some sort of candy-flower scented stuff is a real problem. It could be that the little hint of lemon in that Chardonnay is from Cascade detergent company!

The real killer to the bouquet in wine is cologne, perfume, aftershave, shaving lotion, hand lotion and toothpaste! I can't tell you how many volunteers at wine tasting events and commercial judgings have been dismissed because of the stuff that is put on the body to "smell nice." The air around wine should be neutral in all respects. In my wine appreciation class at the university, I do not allow food in the room, gum to be chewed or any other kind of related smells. This is a very big thing in the wine world. See if you don't agree. Try smelling and tasting wine in a closed room with a bunch of flowers, then go outside, get some fresh air and smell/taste the wine &

the difference is quite something.


162; The cool wine bargain of the week comes from south Australia and it is a 2006 Shiraz from Aaku. This 13 percent alcohol gem has loads of deep, purple fruit, hints of spice in the nose and back palate and a bouquet redolent of plum and dark black cherry. This guy sits at under 11 bucks and is just a sweetheart of a red wine. Those of you wanting a rich red without the bite and a velveteen finish, this is it! See you next week!

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