With the 25th Annual San Angelo Food & Wine Festival coming up, some pointers.
There are three elements to formal tasting of wine: look, smell, taste.
Because you learn a lot about a wine by looking at it, use a clear glass. View against a white background, tilt the glass away from you and look at the edge (“rim”) of the wine against the bowl to judge color.
Next, swirl the wine to observe its body. Thicker “legs”—streaks of wine clinging to the bowl—indicate higher alcohol and/or sweetness, but they are not indicators of quality.
Swirling also releases the wine’s aroma (bouquet or “nose”). A tulip-shaped wineglass best presents smell. Place your nose in the glass and inhale. Some start with a first-impression sniff, followed by a deeper inhale; others inhale deeply immediately. Either way, don’t drink yet. Enjoy the aroma—smell is the single most important element in wine appreciation.
Finally, taste. A wine’s taste is a balance between acidity and sweetness. There will be a first impression. Enjoy, don’t swallow. Swirl wine in your mouth so it coats your tongue, draw in some air—yes, this can make a funny sound. Experience the body and texture. Swallow (or spit into a bucket at a formal tasting). Finally, appreciate aftertaste: how long did it last (was it “long in the mouth”), was it pleasant?
At a formal tasting, typically you share impressions, even score the wine. You soon discover different mouths and noses experience different things. Don’t fret, enjoy the wine.
• Ca’ Montini Pinot Grigio. Apples, pears, bewitching. $17
• Andretti Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Gold medal winner from the Indy winner. $19
• Summer’s Cabernet Sauvignon Andriana’s Cuvee. Lush, plush, huge vanilla and chocolate. A real wow wine. $21