Wine tasting is fast-becoming one of the most popular weekend pastimes for tourists who want to explore the excellent wine regions Australia has on offer. Yet while you’re taking tasting tours from your Barossa Valley accommodation and hearing words like ‘mossy’ or ‘oaky’, are you really getting the most out of the experience? We’ve put together a brief cheat-sheet for wine tasting, so that next time you visit wine country, you’ll be swilling, sniffing and spitting with the best of them!
Go With Your Nose
The first whiff you get of a glass of wine tells you a lot about it. When people talk about ‘high notes’ and ‘low notes’, all they’re actually describing is the initial smell that hits your nose, followed by the deeper one as you breathe it in. Don’t be afraid to identify the aromas you’re smelling, no matter how bizarre they may seem. Talk through what you’re getting—and don’t just think of edible flavours, either! Some of the most highly-awarded wines smell of mud, and some of the cheapest, nastiest products smell like sweet strawberries, so while the smell can tell you a lot about the wine, it doesn’t necessarily equate to how the wine is going to taste.
Swirling the wine around in the glass, believe it or not, is not just a way to appear knowledgeable and pretentious! It oxidises the wine, letting the wine ‘open up’ and allowing the flavours to shine through. This is why good wine is often opened and decanted, or allowed to ‘breathe’, to let more oxygen into the bottle. By swirling the wine around your glass you’re giving it full contact with the air, which can subtly change the entire flavour.
Take your time with a taste. After you’ve had a sniff, swirl the glass around, then take another sniff. Try and identify the way the swirling has changed the flavours already. Next, take a small sip on the centre of your tongue, and let the wine move naturally around your palette so that you can get the full force of the flavours. Note the first thought that comes into your head—it’s usually the right one. Note also the affect it has on your mouth and throat. Some wines feel thicker on the throat and palette, while others leave your mouth tacky and dry. Of course it’s all a matter of personal taste, but the more you come to identify the types of flavours and styles you enjoy, the quicker you can get down to the business of drinking more!
The Barossa Valley is an excellent place to begin your wine education, as it boasts some of the best wine Australia has to offer. Barossa Valley hotels usually offer a range of information on tasting tours and other local events, so make a weekend out of it and let your wine expertise start to grow!
|Writer – Morten Pedersen – E-mail
Visit: Winesworld the Wine Database