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The Art of Enjoying Wine
The Art of Enjoying Wine
Learning about wine and tasting it right is for many people an
“important rite of passage into adulthood” – an enjoyable experience with
many benefits. In likelihood, drinking wine is an art that is refined and
fun to do as it gives pleasure to the five senses and also, by having
knowledge about the wine that you are drinking, you increase your enjoyment
and experience of the whole wine appreciation. The ability to enjoy good
wine is an acquired one. (Robinson J., 2000)
Mr Noel Emmanuel, the beverage manager of Grand Hyatt Singapore, said
“Stimulating taste buds via food and beverages is a significant part of the
so-called human experience.” Human taste is comprised of four basic
components:” sweetness, saltiness, acidity and bitterness”. Flavours are
detected by different taste buds in your mouth that individually perceive
to one of the four components of the taste.
Mr. Emmanuel also pointed out, “The areas most sensitive to the taste
is the tip of the tongue, with acidity taste buds located towards the
middle”. The taste buds that detect the bitterness is located at the back
of the tongue, and therefore the last to get involved with the wine in your
mouth. When tasting wine, a little stimulation of the bitter-sensing taste
buds is pleasant.
What Tannin Is
Tannin is an important component of red wine. The taste is similar to
that when you bite into a grape seed. That dry bitter taste is tannin. In
moderate amounts tannin gives red wine an added flavour dimension as well
as acts as a natural preservative. Great red wines have naturally quite a
lot of tannin in their youth; with aging the tannin softens and lends
complexity to the mature red wine. Red wines with too much tannin are
bitter and unpleasant, and its fruit flavours may be hidden beneath the
tannins. Mr Emmanuel, who has 9 years experience in the food & beverage
industry, explained that the right amount of tannin does not mask other
flavours, but instead it gives the wine a little ‘grip’ in the mouth and
seems to hold all the flavours together.
Five-step process of wine tasting.
1. Look at the wine: According to the book Wine Uncorked by Franklin
Beckett, judging a wine’s colour allows you to make some assessment about
how old the wine is and how heavy the wine might feel in your mouth. Young
red wines are close to purple in colour. Over time, they pass through red
towards brown. White wines start off in various shades of clear and they
head toward a straw colour.
Different wines have different colours. Beckett described the
thickness of the colour usually indicates a richness, fruitiness, and
heaviness. Thickness is best judged toward the edges of the wine as it sits
in the glass. Glasses are tipped to 45 degrees angle to create a large edge
of wine against the side of the glass. This means that the wine is filled
only a quarter full during the critical tasting. The proper way to hold any
glass wine is by the stem.
2. Swirl the wine in the glass. Beckett illustrated that swirling will
help expose the wine to more oxygen, which could be a goal of the taster,
eager to taste the wine right out of the bottle, but it is usually done to
release aromas. Mr Emmanuel also recommended that the easiest way to swirl
a glass full of wine is to lift the base of the glass somewhat vigorously;
you will create a tornado of aromas that lift up and out of your wine
3. Smell the wine. According to Beckett, the best way to smell wine is
to stick your nose into the glass after you have swirl it as it will allow
you to catch the updraft of the little tornado of aroma you have created.
4. Taste it: Mr Emmanuel made clear that with time, a novice will be
able to understand the many flavours of wine as well as its important
components such as acidity and tannin.
“It is important to let the wine linger in your mouth for at least ten
seconds; otherwise, you are not really tasting it. It is important to roll
the wine around your mouth with your tongue and expose it to as much of
your mouth as possible. This encourages vaporisation, which releases aroma
and flavour” Mr Emmanuel explained.
5. Swallow or Spit: With reference to the book Wine Uncorked, Beckett
explained that at the dinner table, you are probably not going to be
spitting out your experiments. However, if you go to a tasting where you
sample a lot of wine, you are going to spit out most of the wines you try.
It is easier to judge a wine’s aftertaste though, known as its ‘finish’
when you swallow it rather than spitting into a bucket.
The thirst quenching-embrace of a cold white wine on a hot day or
night is the perfect sensory experience. However, alcohol is a drug, pure
and simple; it is foolish not to be aware of its dangers. It affects our
bodies, brains, judgement, coordination and perception. ‘Responsible
drinking’ is not an oxymoron. Moderation is the key to most pleasures.