When you experience the world of fine dining there is usually a knowledgeable wine waiter known as the Sommelier who brings out the finest choice of wine to your table. However, if you truly desire to have the finest of wine experiences, you too should have a job to do, as the taster of the sample!
So if you are the taster of the sample for your table, suppose to look out and taste for?
The Dreadful Smell of the “Corked” Wine
First, you should witness the sommelier open the wine at your table. If it arrives open, send it back. It needs to be opened at the table. The person who opens it, if it has a cork, should have a sniff of the cork. This helps them decide if the wine is good or gone. They should know, that’s their job. If it’s gone, they will go get a replacement bottle.
The smelling of wine to see if the wine is “corked” does not mean there is a bit of cork floating in the wine and the only remedy is to remove said piece of cork with a teaspoon or finger, and drink it!
No, “Corked”, is a smell. It indicates the wine has gone off. The smell is often described as wet dog. I once left damp rugby kit in a well-sealed bag in a warm room for three days before opening the bag. “Corked” reminds me of my kit that day. If you taste “corked” wine it will taste dull and flat with no taste of fruit at all. This can be sent back.
Steps of the Taster
Now you must do a taste test to make sure this is the wine is suitable for your dining. First hold the glass steady and slowly raise it towards your nose. As the glass gets closer sniff. You are sniffing for fruit scents. The further away from your nose the more intense the aroma of the wine.
If you know only one thing, know that you are smelling for fruit. No fruity, no lighty, no likey!
Once you can smell for fruit, give the glass a little swirl, and sniff again. Just that little swirl will have to raise the temperature enough to lift more fruit scents out of the wine. This time you should be able to identify more fruits and this is called the complexity of the wine. Quite simply how many aromas can you name?
Now you’ve had two sniffs, hold the glass at about 45° against a white background, table cloth should do. You are looking to see if the wine has cloudiness or particles in it. Look at the colour and if the wine is red but looks more like the colour of an old dusty London Brick, that’s not good either. Clear bright colours, even with dark reds. If there is a candle, see if the light of the flame comes through well.
You’re doing well, now the swirly bit. The ‘safest’ way to do this is to place the stem of the glass on the table and swill the wine around the bowl with the stem on the table, less likelihood of it flying out the glass this way.
Higher alcohol content wines have arches that are close together and the ‘tears’ roll slower in higher alcohol wines. If you’ve ordered high level abv wines this will show you. If you see no ‘arches’ or ‘tears’, it maybe the glass has been used too many times that night, ask for a clean glass, or you need to polish your specs. Either way your next step is the taste.
Take a sip, hold it just behind your teeth and pull some air in, you will make a slurp sound, that’s fine. You are tasting for fruit first. Roll the wine around your mouth. Higher quality wines, should, leave you with a feeling of substance in your mouth, lower quality do feel a bit watery. Swallow.
Finally make your decision. Your sommelier will be making mental notes as you do this too. If you are happy with the quality and aromas and flavours and have completed all your tests with happy end results inform that the wine is acceptable, but they should then pour wine into everybody’s else’s glass leaving you until last.
Want to know more about wine and wine tasting? Come follow me on my twitter @thesommelieruk! Until next time, à bientôt.