In our previous lesson, we learned how to smell a wine and how to start to recognize the aromas.
In this lesson you will begin learning how to taste a wine.
The first thing to do is to take a sip of your wine.
When you do this, try to open your mouth a little bit in order to also inspire a little bit of oxygen. This will help you release more aromas.
Then you must swirl the wine inside your mouth.
You should touch all the parts of your mouth, the tongue, your cheeks and between the gums and the teeth.
Why? Because different parts of your mouth can detect different things.
The first thing you must detect is how sweet the wine is.
You detect the sweetness with your tongue, more precisely with the tip of the tongue.
You should have a tingling sensation on the tip of your tongue.
The level of sugar in a wine can be extremely low, and in that case, we say the wine is dry.
Or it could be very high, and in that case, we say the wine is sweet.
If it is sweet you should also detect a slight oily sensation on your tongue, and the wine has more viscosity. To check the viscosity, check the tears forming on the glass when you swirl it: sweeter wines tend to have slower-falling droplets.
But to correctly assess the sweetness you must always think how much acidity you have in your wine, because acidity and sweetness mask each other.
In the first lesson you had tasted a grape, when you ate the flesh of the black grape, you felt an increased salivation on your cheeks. This was the concept of acidity.
So, when you assess the sweetness, also ask yourself how much acidity you have in this wine!
For example, if you have a wine with a little bit of sweetness, but with a high level of acidity, the impression would be that you are tasting a dry wine. But it is not!
It is the acidity that balances the sweetness of the wine.
For example, when the acidity in a wine is soaring, like for the Champagne, a bit of sugar can help balance out its structure and it will not be noticed by most drinkers.
But you must be careful also when you taste a sweet wine. If you have to assess the acidity in a sweet wine, ask yourself if this wine is cloying or not.
Because, if it is not cloying, probably it is because it has a high level of acidity, helpful to clean your palate and to balance the sugar in the wine.
Balance is one of the key concepts to consider when you assess the quality of a wine!
Your task for this lesson is a double one! First, you need to pour a dry red wine, around 12,5% alcohol in your glass. Taste it and focus on the acidity. Then, in the same glass, you must add some lemon juice (around 3 centilitres is enough). Taste again the same wine with some lemon juice and focus only on the increased salivation you should have on your cheeks. This is the concept of acidity!
The second task is to take 4 glasses. You add the same quantity of lemon juice to the 4 glasses. Then you add half of a teaspoon of sugar to the first glass, one teaspoon of sugar to the second glass, one and half teaspoons of sugar to the third glass and two teaspoons of sugar to the glass number four.
Taste them and that way you will understand how sugar and acidity balance each other in a wine!
In our next lesson, you will learn how to detect tannins and the body in a wine.