Whether it’s learning how to decant your wines or learning about the different taste categories, knowing truly how to taste your food and wine will help you have a unique palate experience every time. Here are five essential wine-tasting rules you need to know on your way to becoming a tasting expert.
1. Consider decanting
Although most wines do not need to be decanted, decanting any wine, even if it’s as simple as pouring the wine from one carafe to another, can let the wine breathe and soften any harsh tannins that might be present.
2. Learn about taste categories
The tongue has five categories of taste. They are:
- Umami (also described as savory)
The play and combination of the different flavors can elevate the flavor experience. To have a truly incredible palate experience, look for foods that contain at least two or three of the five tastes. For example:
- Chocolate chip cookies (sweet) with bittersweet chocolate (bitter) sprinkled with salt (salty) instead of sugar.
- Sweet potato fries (umami) with brown sugar (sweet).
3. Smell rules
While the tongue can detect the five categories of taste above, the nose picks up on many additional chemical nuances present in food and wine. The combination of the taste along with the smell enhances our perceptions of the foods we eat and wines we drink. So be sure to inhale the aroma before you take a sip of wine or a bite of food.
4. Learn wine lingo
Wine tasters draw from a vast library of flavor descriptors—geranium, eucalyptus, honey, vanilla, hemp, green pepper, watermelon, and orange peel, to name just a handful. But the better we can identify what's in the glass, the better we can describe what we like, and the easier it is to find our favorites.
5. Learn about the grape
A single grape, crushed and fermented, gets its myriad flavor attributes from three places:
- The grape itself (fruity)
- The winemaking (nutty, creamy, or yeasty)
- The terroir, or land where it was grown (earthy, stony, mineral)