3.) Sip, and spit, or don’t!

Once you’ve gotten your first impression of the aromas of the wine, it’s time to taste the wine. One thing to be aware of here is that there really is not too much to taste in a wine. Our tongues can sense sweet (sugar), sour (acid), bitter (tannin), salt (let hope there’s none in our wine!), and depending on whom you ask, Umami.

What we think of as flavors -- blackberry, leather, game, and pepper (that could be a general description of two grape varieties – anyone want to guess?) are actually additional aromas that we smell while drinking.  Once in our warm mouth, the volatilization of compounds really gets going and we begin to smell retronasally, which is a fancy way of saying that these aromas are getting into our nose through the backdoor!

One way of encouraging the development of inner-mouth perfumes, and helping them move along into the nasal cavity, is by drawing air in through the wine while it is in your mouth. A few bubbles can create a tremendous difference in a wine, and that’s why you tend to hear so much sucking and bubbling at professional wine tastings. You also tend to see a lot of spitting out of the wine, and while I generally lament doing so, when I am faced with more than 8 or 10 wines to taste it really is the only way to make it through them halfway sober!

So, that’s the short of it: Take a look, give it a swirl, take a sniff, then a sip. No surprises, no real hurdles -- just Wine Appreciation 101. Give it a try!