Know the lingo
The wine world has its own language, so the first step to understanding wine is to know how to talk about it. You probably know “vintage” (the year the grapes were picked) and “aroma,” (the smell of the wine), but what about “appellation?” Appellation is how most wines from Europe are identified. Instead of being labeled by their grape (pinot noir refers to the pinot noir grapes), European wines will be named by their place. Other common terms include “grip,” which basically means mouthfeel.
How to smell wine
First, you should also know the difference between “aroma” and “bouquet.” Aroma is one of the scents you can pick out, like “apple” or “honey.” It’s like one flower. The “bouquet” is the complex smell of all those aroma flowers. When you go wine-tasting, don’t wear a strong cologne and don’t try to really get a good sniff when there’s lots of food around. Also, to be really good at identifying aromas, just start smelling stuff on a day-to-day basis. That way, you’ll be able to recognize citrus versus a cinnamon.
How to know if the wine is any good
One of the most embarrassing moments during a wine tasting is if you can’t tell whether a wine is actually any good or not. There’s subjective taste, sure, but then there are ways to actually qualify the quality of a wine. “Length” is a great way to tell if a wine is good – if you can taste the wine all the way on your tongue, it is good. If it has a lot of complex flavors versus one flat taste, it’s good.
The best way to improve your wine-tasting abilities is to learn from others. Find good websites, books, and magazines all about wine so you can hold a conversation with someone about different vineyards, vintages, and grape types. Start drinking better wine and paying attention to tastes and bouquets. You’ll open yourself up to a whole new world of taste and pleasure.