80% of what you experience in wine is smell, 20% is taste. Seriously, smell is that important to enjoying your wine! Once you’ve sipped your wine and put it down, you’re actually still smelling it by means of retronasal modality. So, spend a few moments, swirl, take a few short sniffs, and see what the wine is telling you.
The color of your wine can tell you a lot. Different varietals have different colors, it can show the age of the wine, and how the winemaker treated the wine. The color of the wine can tell you just as much as the taste and smell can. Try holding an oaked and unoaked chardonnay next to each other and see the difference. So, tip that glass ever so slightly and see what’s in there.
The body of the wine is the texture you feel when tasting, is it light like non-fat milk, or heavier like half & half? It’s the major difference between a delicate pinot noir and a robust cabernet sauvignon, between a crisp sauvignon blanc and a buttery chardonnay. Next time you sip, take a second to notice how the wine feels in your mouth.
Tannins come from the skins, seeds, stems, and the barrel. It’s what gives wine that feeling when your tongue dries out a bit or has been lightly rubbed with sandpaper. The amount of tannins can be graded as light, medium, and heavy, or anywhere in between. Tannins help build complexity and can balance a big red wine.
Not every wine ages gracefully. It’s likely you have a couple bottles in your house you think are just getting better and better with age, but they’ve actually peaked years ago and are now likely almost vinegar. Look at the year on the bottle, if it’s a white drink it within a year or two, if it’s a red maybe 2-5 years, but likely not anymore than that.
This is where all those previous components come together and tell you what this wine’s all about. The finish shouldn’t be just one note or feeling, meaning the wine should have complexity. Some questions to ask after your sips… How long do you continue to taste this wine after your last sip? What flavors are you getting? Does it taste like it smells? Do you want more of it?