Tasting is the action of carefully trying a product in order to appreciate its quality. It is submitting to our senses, particularly our senses of smell and taste, but also our sight. It is a getting-to-know process; the sifting out of a product’s various qualities and defects.
We all possess a capacity for wine-tasting. It is a method and an art that can be learned. But it does require practice. The appreciation of wine in all its dimensions requires attention and concentration.
The tasting venue should be well lit, well ventilated and quiet. Natural lighting is preferable, because colours reflect better through sunlight. It should be noted that our tasting capacity can be impaired by habits such as smoking.
Something else to remember is that wine-tasting is better done on an empty stomach than after a meal. In any event, the taster needs to be calm and relaxed, because fatigue, pain or worry will spoil our concentration and dull our responses to sensory stimuli.
The temperature of the wine is a very important factor when it comes to tasting. The aromas and bouquets only become perceptible at 14ºC and are completely imperceptible at below 8ºC.
The most important piece of equipment for the wine taster is the glass, which must always be thin, transparent, colourless, uncut, and undecorated. It should always be held by the base or stem, to avoid warming the wine or leaving fingerprints on the glass.
The glass should always be filled to a third of its volume to retain the colour of the wine, which might alter at larger volumes; to release the aromas; and to leave sufficient space to allow the glass to be swirled without spilling the wine.
When about to taste a number of wines, it is important to progress from whites to reds, and from young to aged. The last to be tasted will always be the sweet wines.