A few things that I learned from the lovely Camille about wine tasting:
*Most tasting should be done early in the day, preferably before lunch because your sense of taste is more active then (and it’s a great excuse for a relaxing and well-deserved lunch after all that hard work).
* Most of our ability to taste actually comes from our sense of smell, so get your nose in that glass and smell the aromas!
* Oh, and speaking of glasses: Camille wasn’t even aware of the “glass shape” hubbub that certain glass manufacturers are spouting off about. Just make sure that the opening is narrow so that it confines the wine aromas in the glass as you’re about to sense them.
*Do not eat before tasting a series of wines or all will be lost.
*If your palette gets tired, have something familiar to bring it back to neutral. In other words, if you are a coffee drinker, have a sip of coffee. If you smoke, have a cigarette (yes, it’s true. One vintner noted that he had to begin his tasting education all over again once he quit smoking).
*Don’t change your toothpaste just before a wine tasting (really).
*Do not swallow (ahem). Getting wasted will not aid in your quest to find the most delicious aged grape.
*Spit with flair. Try not to spit so hard into the spittoon that your expelled wine splatters all over that carefully tended countertop.
*Wines have many different flavors that can be attributed to things we know and love to smell and eat like fruit, flowers, chocolate, etc. Therefore, when you are learning to identify and categorize tastes in wines, you can practice using a smelling box that consists of plant/flower essences, spices, and essential oils. Camille noted that it can be expensive to establish a smelling box, but is well worth it.
*When tasting, one of the first things to establish is whether the wine contains a dark or black fruit. Dark fruits are obvious things like black plums, cherries, black currants, etc. A wine might also contain a red fruit note like cherries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. Light fruits are things like pears, grapefruit, citrus, etc. These single fruit notes are not always present or so easy to identify, but can be a good starting point.
*Pay attention to all aspects of the wine: the way it looks, the way it smells before tasting, the way it tastes when it first makes contact with your tongue, the way it tastes when you aerate it, the way that it tastes after you expel it.