I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a lot of people that like to drink wine, but most of them just don’t know how to do it. Sure, anyone can screw the cap off of the bottle of Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot and slug it down in the store parking lot. I’m not talking about that. What I’m talking about is really learning how to drink and enjoy wine.
To begin, a wine needs to be smelled. Yes. Smelled. I was told the other day that the reason dogs are so good at smelling is because their noses are so close to the ground. At first this made me snortle a little. Of course their noses are close to the ground. But, after thinking about it a few moments I thought “how profound”. Ask any teenage boy who wants to wear a shirt for the second day. If you put your nose close to anything and breathe deep you can smell everything.
For years I’ve been preaching to people that they need to smell their wines. There is so much in the enjoyment of wine that comes from putting the glass right up to your nose and giving it a deep sniff, just like fido would do.
To intensify the esters coming off of the wine, and helping it lift the odors a bit you need to swirl the wine in the glass. This requires you to not pour a full glass. Instead, pour just 1-3 ounces in the bottom of a large wine glass. Swirl it using the base or the stem. With some practice you’ll be able to keep that white silk blouse from becoming burgundy colored.
Once you’ve adequately swirled your wine, and adequately equals intensely, go ahead and put the glass to your nose again and breathe deep. Do you notice any nuances or changes? Do you detect any odors of fruits or spices? Are there any odors such as sulfurs or dirty odors that make the wine not so pleasant? All of these things are more easily found when you’ve learned how to smell your wine like a dog.
After you smell and swirl your wines multiple times it is now time to take that first sip. I always take a small sip and let it pass over the tongue from front to back and side to side. Let it slip down the back of your throat, swallow, and take a deep breath to get all of the flavors.
Does the smell of the wine match the flavors? If not, why not? A perfect example of a wine that has a completely different “nose” from the flavors is Bergevin Lane’s Oui Deux Syrah. The nose is intensely floral from the blended Viognier, but the flavors are full bodied Syrah with dark berries, vegetable garden, and a complete spice box.
Next, I suggest doing the same swirl and sniff technique, followed by another small sip, and then suck air in between your teeth with the wine still in your mouth. Doing this will blend the wine in your mouth and break up the dullness of any tannins or acids that are present. This method allows you to get the full body of the wine in a single mouth-full.
If you are in a winery tasting room and you do these techniques the staff will assume that you are some amazing wine critic and they will ask you to come back to their VIP area for private tours, dinner with the owners, and free cases of your favorite beverage. Just kidding! However, you will amaze your family and friends with your wine tasting skills.