If you’re a social drinker, these can be challenging times. But there’s no reason why wine lovers in lockdown can’t make the most of exploring the wonderful world of wine, by hosting a wine tasting within your own household.
And what could be better than becoming more confident by enjoying a glass or two without the pressure of price points, and a wine list that could be quite baffling?
Especially, with a little more time on our hands to think about the delicate flavours or mouth-filling richness of the wine, rather than getting another round in.
How to hold a wine tasting at home
Here’s how to host and taste like a pro…
The style of wines
The easiest and most enjoyable way to get to grips with the grapes is to stick to a tasting flight of one variety from different parts of the world, or wines from one particular country or region.
Depending on your taste and budget, if you love the grassy, herbal flavours of sauvignon blanc, you could line-up a white Bordeaux, a Sancerre (both made from this grape), a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand (such as Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, available from Amazon) and one from Chile – the latter two are always good value, reliable choices.
Otherwise, if you’re a red wine lover, think about a selection of reds (four or five) from one country. For example, if you love Australian shiraz, pick up a few bottles from famous regions such as McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley and you’ll be in for a real treat with their smooth, spicy fruit forward flavours.
The best wine glass for a tasting is a large, universal wine glass (suitable for red and white) with a slender stem. Depending on how many bottles, you’ll need a glass for each wine (so you can come back and compare) and most importantly, make sure there’re thoroughly clean so nothing affects the flavour of the wine.
Serving the wine
As a general rule, most wines (apart from a fine, top-notch red) don’t need to be opened early to let the wine breathe. Fill the glass just less than halfway so you can swirl the wine around and let the aromas develop.
If you’re wondering where to start, pour left to right and you can always taste the wines in relation to price points, starting with the cheapest to the most expensive. This will come in handy when you evaluate the wine, and decide which one gives you more bang for your buck.
Tasting the wine
Now the fun bit we’ve all been waiting for. Look at the wine, hold the glass at an angle and think about the colour. If it’s light, ask yourself, does it taste light?
Swirl the wine, put your nose in the glass and think about the smell, can you nail it to notes of raspberries or blackcurrant? Or do tropical fruits leap from the glass?
Take a good sized sip and think about the taste, flavours and texture. Does the white have a vibrant freshness… does the red finish long and do the flavours linger? Let the senses do the talking and spark the conversation… and tasting notes.
Great wines will have complex flavours but at the end of the day it’s all a matter of taste, having fun and and how much you enjoy the wine.
Nibbles to serve
As any wine anorak will know, if you go to a professional tasting the most you’ll be offered is a plate of water biscuits to refresh your palate – but wine rules are made to be broken. Think a selection of cheeses, but nothing too overpowering, or seafood nibbles but not too spicy.
Keeping the kids entertained
A non-alcoholic kiddies cocktail that’s easy to rustle up is a Shirley Temple, and they’ll love the fizzy, sweet taste. Take a tall glass, half fill it with ice, pour in ginger ale (or lemonade), add a splash of grenadine syrup and garnish with a maraschino cherry. Otherwise treat them to a cute bubblegum milkshake with a Monin Bubblegum syrup (available from Amazon).
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