A 4-step approach to improve your wine-tasting confidence

This post attempt at giving you simple tips to build up on your tasting ability, and ultimately on your enjoyment of wine. I find it sad to hear my friends not daring to speak up about how they like or don’t like such wine, because they are scared to say the wrong thing – scared to sound ridiculous – scared to be seen as gross. There is no big secret about tasting wine, it is like smelling a perfume really, you might just find it yeah! or nay… And sometimes you might be inspired to elaborate a little on what your senses capture. And like anything, senses may require a little practice to develop some level of comfort.

*This picture was taken during a tasting at Chateau Haut-Brion, a beautiful castle with a fantastic winery in the Bordeaux region.

*This picture was taken during a tasting at Chateau Haut-Brion, a beautiful castle with a fantastic winery in the Bordeaux region.

So please keep reading and next thing you will find yourself doing is cracking a couple of bottles, getting a cute notebook and off you go, you have a new hobby!

Your starter kit:

  • Wine at room temperature for red, slightly chilled for white (check the label, they usually provide this info)
  • Real wine glasses
  • A glass of water
  • Bread or crackers to wash your palate (see previous post on wine as for why)
  • A notebook

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How to taste wine – and stop being intimidated by what you gonna say…

This post is the first in series where I share personal tips to better approach and enjoy the wine tasting experience. I was lucky enough – all my life – to be surrounded with amazing wines and passionate connoisseurs. I am from one of the oldest family from the very famous Bordeaux region, my husband is passionate about Burgundy wines, and through my career, I have worked with passionate Chefs, dedicated sommeliers and devoted winemakers around the world. I believe no-one should feel intimidated by wine. I share these tips allow anyone curious about wine culture to make confident choices, enchant her guests, and fully enjoy the beautiful work of skilled winemakers from around the world.

Now the holiday season is gently rolling toward the end, I once again had the chance to share some wonderful vintages preciously saved, as well as some little treasures discovered at bargain price at the local wine shop. There are many great things about wine. One is that the more I taste wine (and I mean TASTE), and the less I drink. I also pay more attention to what I eat with it. Finally, I also pay attention to how I prepare for it… Today, I’ll focus on how (and why) to prepare yourself for tasting a vintage; and what to know when you taste several wines:

1/ How to prepare yourself:

Wine is an experienced through the senses of smell and taste, mostly – and sight as well. The best state of mind is to be welcoming. For your palate, this means not eating or drinking anything salted, sweet, sparkling… anything really that would alter or tweak your senses. Ideally, you should only have had still water in the hour before tasting wine.

2/ When tasting several vintage, know that:

  • Start with red, finish with white: Because the acidity of the white wine potentially overwhelms your palate, therefore you organize the tasting to avoid saturation of the senses.
  • When tasting several red, don’t hesitate to have a tiny piece of bread between 2 wines. Avoid salty crackers, you may substitute with unsalted plain crackers to fit your diet and taste requirements. The starch in the bread (or crackers) helps to capture the flavors. Therefore you have a better distinction of each wine, and you have a sense of starting fresh for each new glass.
  • Rinse your mouth with a sip of water from time to time.
  • Spitting is not cheating. It is just fine to spit wine, especially if you don’t like it! Less is more: Drink quality, not quantity…

Now you have few tips to start your journey as a wine connoisseur. Please share your feedback, questions, tips! Next post about wine, I’ll take your hand and drive you through my 4-step method to taste and describe a vintage…