The Real Girls Guide To Tasting Wine Like A Pro!


As throngs of tourists head to Napa to taste and enjoy its wine this summer, you can too right at home!

We love sharing and sipping wine with our guests. To enhance the tasting experience and fully appreciate the bottle you are enjoying, it helps to employ some simple tips. We enlisted our resident wine expert, Kirk Sprenger, to help us share 8 steps you can easily follow next time you’re enjoying wine. It takes some practice, but over time you will develop your own tasting style. Our most important tip is to be open to trying everything – we’ve discovered wines we love at every price range and from various regions in the world. Although there are many wine rules, don’t forget to have fun while wine tasting and discovering what it is you like in a wine.

girls guide to wine

1. Do your homework:  Every bottle of wine has a story. The main elements of the story can be found right on the bottle: the name of the winery, the type of grape(s), where the grapes where grown (on the estate or by a farmer up the road) and the year the grapes were harvested. When you take the time to learn “the story” behind the bottle, you recognize and appreciate all the time, work and passion that went into making your bottle of wine. This extra bit of “leg work” personalizes your tasting experience by allowing you to connect with the roots of your wine.

2. The glass does matter:  The glass you taste wine with, does matter. If a glass is engineered correctly, it will allow you to fully enjoy all of the taste a particular wine has to offer. Riedel is our pick for wine glasses that are perfectly engineered to guide wine over the palate. Each glass is designed so that the wine you sip will hit select spots in your mouth and tongue. Certain wines need to hit the sides of your tongue, others the tip. This impacts how you taste the wine and ultimately your enjoyment.

3. A good start: Before you can sip you need to open the bottle, this can be tricky at times.  To open a bottle of wine you will need a corkscrew, foil cutter, and clean cloth.  Start by cutting the foil with the foil cutter, we find it more friendly than a knife. Make sure the foil is cut below the lip of the wine bottle to prevent wine from touching it when pouring. If wine touches foil, it can change its taste. Then wipe the bottle neck and top with a clean cloth.  To uncork the bottle, unfold the corkscrew and insert it into the center of the wine bottle’s cork.  Gently push it in, and the begin twisting. Keep twisting the corkscrew until you have only one twist left.  You don’t wan to twist too far, as this will cause pieces from the bottom of the cork to fall into the wine. Finally, dislodge the cork.  Make sure you have a firm grip on the bottle, and then move the lever arms down toward the neck of the bottle.  Push down on the lever so that the cork begins moving upward until it pops out.  (If you do get cork in the bottle, use a cheese cloth to filter the wine into a decanter.)

4. The perfect pour:  Always leave a glass sitting on the table when pouring. Hold a wine bottle with both of your hands, and carefully pour about 4-5 ounces of wine in your glass.  Aim for a “fall” – the distance from the bottle’s lip to the bottom of the wine glass’s bowl – of about 6 to 10 inches (15 – 25 cm). This distance allows for a bit of wine aeration, improving the flavor by softening the presence of the wine’s tannins.  To avoid wine dripping down the bottle, gently twist the bottle towards the end of the pour.

Tasting tips from Kirk Sprenger of Chappaqua Wine & Spirit Company, our resident wine expert . . .

5. Seeing is believing {Sight}:  Hold the wine in your glass at about a 45 degree angle against a light surface.  Check not only its color, but its clarity.  For a young wine especially, you want to make sure that it has a more brilliant clarity.  By swirling  the wine in the glass and allowing it to drift down the sides you can see the appearance of “legs”.  This is the glycerin in the wine and indicates its depth of body.

6. The nose knows {Smell}:  Again, swirl the wine in the glass, and as it is still swirling get your nose into the glass ans smell its fragrances.  This is know as the “nose” or the bouquet.  Take your time doing this.  The more you swirl, the more air you will draw into the glass to release the essences of the wine.  As the air mixes with the wine a chemical reaction occurs, this allows the scents and flavors to emerge.  Close your eyes, if necessary, and mentally identify the components that you smell.  These are the components that you then want to look for when you taste the wine.

7. Taste not waste {Taste}: Take in a moderate amount of wine into your mouth and start by gently swishing the wine around to all posts of your mouth It is important for the wine to come into contact with all the areas, because each part of the mouth picks u different characteristics; such as acidity, sweetness, tannins (the drying acids in a wine). oak and fruit.  Another method of tasting is to hold the wine in your mouth, while slightly tilting your head forward and gently drawing in air through the wine, somewhat like sucking through a straw.  This allows for more air contact, and, thus a further release of the wines’ essence.  (Admittedly, this procedure does take some practice).

8. Make it to the finish line {Aftertaste}:  Yes, the sign of a good wine IS the aftertaste.  A wine that falls flat after it has been swallowed shows a lack of fruit.  Fruity ( the flavor in a wine) should NOT be confused with sweet (the residual sugar left in the wine).  After all, wine is made from fruit and we DO want to taste the fruit.  A good aftertaste is know as “a long finish”.



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