Wine tasting tips

Quick wine tasting refresher course on eve 28th Annual San Angelo Food & Wine Festival.

Remember the five-S mantra of tasting mavens: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, Savor.

• See. Typically, this involves looking at wine in your tilted glass in front of a white background. At the rollicking festival, light-dark, red-white may have to do.

• Swirl. This exposes wine to air to release aroma, setting up the next S. Caution: swirling creates “legs” or “tears” inside the glass. Legs are visually interesting, but reveal nothing about quality.

• Smell. Masters of wine use three stations: they hold the glass at their chest and smell, then at their chin, finally they shove their nose inside the glass. Nose-in-the-glass probably is only thing that will work consistently at the festival’s boisterous events, but smell is most important element of wine tasting.

• Sip. The verb is sip, not guzzle. Let the wine envelope your tongue, breath while you swish the wine inside your mouth. Professionals then spit the sip into a bucket. Don’t expect to see much sip spitting at the Museum of Fine Arts or the Fort Concho Stables.

• Savor. Evaluate the sip. How did it first taste (the “attack”), how did it evolve, how did it finish? Or forget that wine snob stuff. Just smile and enjoy yourself. Savor the company, savor the food, savor the wine, savor being a part of what makes San Angelo special every April—the oldest wine and food festival in the state (not in Dallas, not in San Antonio, not in Houston; in San Angelo).

See you there.


• Mauritson Dry Creek Zinfandel 2009. Jammy, red fruit-raspberry-pepper-chocolate; balanced, sweet tannin, easy drinking CA zin; significant sediment-decanting a must. Taste at Thursday’s event. $25

• Christoval Vineyards Tempranillo NV. Rustic; cherries, red fruits, leather; nice tannins, oak, medium-full body; CV’s winner. Taste at Friday’s event. $24

• Stephen Vincent Crimson California 2008. Syrah-cab Rhone-style; smoked meat nose; berries, spicy, chicory, zingy acidity; great value. $12