Wine Tasting for Beginners
First time in a winery? Please don’t feel intimidated! The staff are there to help you and get you through your first time wine tasting nerves. So, before we unleash you on the unsuspecting populace of the Hunter Valley or Mount Tamborine, we need to have you fully trained up as consummate wine professionals. There are five techniques to looking like a consummate wine professional:
Wine Glass Holding
You need to hold your wine glass correctly. You need to hold it by the stem or by the base. If you hold it by the bowl, then your body heat will warm that wine up and nobody likes warm wine. Not unless you’re in a ski field drinking mulled wine or gluhwein. So you need to hold it up to the window, the light, to a white sheet of paper. You need to make sure there are no tadpoles or floaties going on in there. If things are looking good, you can make comments like “Wow, look at the clarity, look at the colour, it’s got great viscosity, what a saddle, look at the legs on that!” The staff will look at each other and go, “Hhhhmmmm, professionals!”
Aerate Your Wine
You need to aerate the wine; you need to get oxygen inside it which will release all these different flavours. If you just pick it up and smell it, you won’t smell a whole lot. So you need to agitate that baby, you need to poke it in the eye! Now you can hold your glass in your hand and swirl it around but the chances are you might spill some. If you spill some, the staff will look at each other and go, “meh, amateurs!” So the bar tops are made from marble or from wood. Put your glass on the bar top and give it a really good swirl around clockwise, or anti-clockwise, depending on your preference. Give it a really good Mr Miyagi – Wax on Wax off. Wax on, Wax off.
Smell Your Wine
You need to smell your wine. “Hmmmm, I can smell passion-fruit, apricots, dried grass clippings, very herbaceous flavours coming through here, good nose.” Just start to make some stuff up – “Ah, I can smell koalas, fresh puppies, warm kittens, some skunk, diesel, wet dog, perhaps a hint of sweaty bike saddle?” The staff will look at each other and go, “Wooaahhhh, professionals!” People get very impressed by that kind of thing…
Taste Your Wine
You need to taste your wine. Now when we say taste your wine, that doesn’t mean just knocking it back like a tequila slammer; actually taste the stuff. Wash it around the back of your palate, round the front of your mouth, gargle with it! The professionals actually raise their upper lip in a kind of Billy Idol, Sid Vicious kind of sneer and suck air through the top part of their lip because again, you’re getting oxygen inside your mouth which is releasing all these different flavours. Sounds disgusting, looks disgusting, but apparently is a great way for tasting wine.
Drink Your Wine
Well you’ve admired your wine, you’ve aerated it, you’ve had a sniff, you’ve had a taste, so if you like the stuff (Gulp) drink it! If you don’t like the wine, spit it out and start all over again. Let me tell you right here now ladies and gentlemen, there is no such thing as a bad wine. It is purely your personal opinion. It’s like food, it’s like art, it’s like music. Everyone has their own personal opinion on these things.
Buy Your Wine
So if you like the wine, buy a bottle, buy a case, go crazy – buy the factory! If you don’t like the stuff, just spit it out. There’ll be some spittoons lined along the bar top so don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t like the stuff. The cellar door staff completely understand that you all have an individual palate.
The cellar door staff will ask you questions – “did you like that one, did you like the last one?” Don’t just stand there like stunned mullets – give them some feedback, it’s like Groundhog Day for these people. Tell them what you’re thinking – “yeah, I loved that one, no I prefer the last one. I prefer whites, I prefer reds, I prefer beer, which is why I’m on a wine tasting tour! It’s a bit too sharp, it’s a bit too green, it’s a bit too acidic.” Whatever you do, don’t go saying things like – “Holy hell! That is the most disgusting wine I’ve tasted in my entire life! I can‘t believe you people actually bottle this stuff and sell it!” So if you don’t like the wines, just say, “Not my bag, baby, not my cup of tea”, but there’s no need to go insulting the cellar door staff like that.
Bon Chance, mon amis!