Wine tasting can be incredibly fun. Getting together with good friends. Trying new wines. Having some wine-friendly food that makes the wine taste even better. Telling stories. Learning from one another. Laughing a lot. Enjoying the whole wine tasting experience. So the big question is: Are there some things you can do to get even more out of your wine tasting experience? In this article, I’ll suggest four helpful tips for optimizing your wine tasting experience.
Get the Wine Tasting Order Right
Here are a few simple rules to follow:
- Whites before reds. Heaven forbid you should go in the opposite direction and run the risk of dulling your palate to the subtleties of the lighter bodied whites.
- Light body before heavy body. It’s challenging to taste a nuanced Pinot Noir after sipping a big, bad Cabernet. Likewise, a Pinot Gris after a Chardonnay will get lost.
- Dry before sweet. When you start with sweet wines, the drier wines taste acidic. The exception on the white side is to end with Chardonnay, since it’s so heavy bodied.
- Young before old. Because old wines tend to have much more complexity, you want to end with these.
For more details about the wine tasting order, please see my blog article called “Getting Your Wine Tasting Order Right.”
Have a Nice Mix of Wines
There are so many different ways to do wine tastings. One night, you might want to do a vertical tasting of a single winery’s Cabernets, say from the years 2000 through 2008. On another occasion, you might want to do an all-Italian tasting. At another event, perhaps you’ll want to do a Sauvignon Blanc tasting from three different regions.
If you don’t have a theme in mind, and just want to have a fun evening tasting a variety of wines, I would recommend starting with a sparkling and following that up with two to three whites and then two to three reds. I would mix up the whites and reds, so that you’re not drinking three Chardonnays or three Cabernets. I would try to have a lighter and a heavier of each color.
Make Sure the Food Compliments the Wine
When you’re doing a wine tasting, you want to make sure the wine takes center stage. When you put too much time and energy into the food, you run the risk of having the wine take a second seat at the table. According to Food & Wine, “What goes with any wine? The dishes the pros recommend tend to offer some combination of salty, crunchy and rich.” They recommend charcuterie, cheese and, believe it or not, popcorn. I add potato chips to the list, along with some chocolate and fruit. The bottom line is to keep it simple.
Have Fun with Your Wine Tasting Experience
This is by far the most important tip. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. Oh, and did I say have fun?
- Celebrate how each person feels about each wine. Because we all have different tastes, you might love a wine that I don’t like, and I might love a wine that you don’t like. It’s all good.
- Celebrate what each person contributes to the event. One person might ask a lot of questions. Another might be the joker. Another might be the wine-knowledgeable person. Another might be the most emotive about liking or disliking the wines. Again, it’s all good.
- Don’t yuck anybody’s yum. This is my favorite of all tips. It goes back to celebrating what each person is experience. Remember that some people only like sweet wines and some people only like big bad reds. Those differences in tastes help make sure that there’s enough wine for everybody.
I would love to hear any tips you have for having a great wine tasting experience. Please share those with us here. Thanks.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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