Tasting Tips

Spring! Buds break in vineyards. Last lashings of winter are well in the rear-view mirror. Birds sing happily in leafing trees. All is good.

Well, there’s that little income tax deadline thingy tonight, but no need to dwell on that aggravation in a column devoted to humor and the joys of vino.

With the oldest wine festival in Texas—31st Annual San Angelo Wine & Food Festival—happening tomorrow and Friday (April 23 and 24)—let us dwell instead on how to help you get most from the festival in your community, your next winery tour, or tomorrow’s “I filed on time and got a refund” cork pulling celebration with friends.

Five-S method for appreciating wine:

  • See. Tilt glass in front of white background to see subtle gradations and intensity of color. Malbec, for instance, has magenta tinge against the rim. Color is arousing precursor of enjoyment.
  • Swirl. Exposes wine to air and releases aromas, setting up step three.
  • Smell. Masters of Wine smell at chest level, chin level, nose jammed into glass. More than half of taste is smell. Most of us do not get much at chest level, but give it a shot—maybe your schnoz is special.
  • Sip. Invite wine to fondle your tongue. Inhale while wine plays inside your mouth to continue smell, note how smell and taste intertwine.
  • Savor. Evaluate sip. How were first moments—the “attack.” How did it evolve—the “finish”?

This may seem formal, but it really does enhance enjoyment of wine.

Tasting notes:

  • Yellow City Cellars Dead Flowers Rosé 2013: Enchanting violet nose; clean, clearly dry—no off-dry strawberry in this rosé, drinks more like a flinty chablis; it’s sharp acidity and precise expression makes it a desirable pairing with fish and salad; this is serious wine, not an aperitif to titillate and bemuse; label from Lubbock’s esteemed McPherson Cellars. $16
  • Christoval Vineyards Tempranillo 2012: Less rustic, more smoothly sophisticated than earlier efforts; subdued fruit (characteristic of tempranillo), hint of earth, lilt of leather, bit of raisin; good sipping wine with enough tannin for red meat balanced by food-friendly acidity, nice finish, reasonable price. $21

Last round: If it’s the thought that counts, think wine.