I always take several actions when sipping on a nice glass of wine paired with a good meal. It is funny really and like that of a tennis player bouncing the ball before a serve or a baseball pitcher gripping the ball inside a glove before the pitch or a golfer strategically adjusting a stance before the drive off the tee-box. The WEST “systematic approach” to tasting wine has me looking, smelling, tasting, and drawing a conclusion about wines I drink.
Colors: We tend to see bight and bold colors and when we think of wine we usually think white and red. Wait; there are more colors on the color wheel of wine with ruby, purple, garnet, lemon, gold, and amber. Do not forget the rose colored wines with pink, salmon, and orange. Described as “brown and hazy”, newer wines are susceptible to faults if colors are brown and hazy. However, this may not be true for older wines. Red wines with brown, orange, and amber colors are an expression of age while purple is the color of more youthful wines. White wines with yellow-green (lemon) or yellow-orange are youthful in nature and orange and brown express age.
Smells: Smelling the wine or “nose” tells us the aromas within the wine. Ask, what does this varietal smell like? Challenge yourself to put a name to the various smells you smell. A healthy wine will have intense aromas while other aromas may be less understood. Reading about aromas on wine bottle labels may give you a hint. However, as WSET mentions, some wine writers use “chemical compounds” to describe smells and you may find this useless. Make sure you swirl your glass (draw small circles on the table with the stem of your wineglass) to increase the aroma of the wine.
Taste: “Palate” is the taste of the wine in your mouth on your tongue. The taste of sweetness, acidity, and tannin is possible with sweetness on the tip of your tongue, bitterness in the back, and acidity on the sides of your tongue. Allowing the wine to stay in your mouth for a couple of seconds, the “body” can be determined. Body is also known as “mouth feel” and a tasting sensation is created when sipping the wine with air through your lips.
Conclusion: Finally, the end of the tasting process is essentially a question of liking the wine or not. This is a simple process taking 1-2 minutes to determine if the wine is enjoyable to you or not. WSET suggests a good quality wine balances sweetness with fruitiness with tannins and acidity. So, let the tasting begin and now you have a nice systematic approach to use when tasting wines with friends and family.