A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting

On special occasions, many people decide to go to a classy and elegant restaurant for a nice meal. As you sit down at the table, the waiter presents you with the wine list. Being surrounded by wine connoisseurs at other tables, you may feel intimidated and inclined to take on board what the waiter recommended in order to fit the crowd. Before you have time to think, the waiter enthusiastically pours you a little taster of the wine. Just like the rest of us who are not wine experts, you do a slight swirl, give a little sip and half-heartedly agree that the wine was a perfect match.

People often think wine tasting is a complicated and daunting exercise. As long as you understand the basic principles of wine tasting, you can convince any waiter you are a wine connoisseur. It may be your first wine tasting event, and you want to make it seem like you have experience appreciating fine wine. If you would like to become a wine connoisseur, continue reading this guide, and we will teach you the fundamental steps of how to taste wine.

Look at it

All your senses are involved with wine tasting. Our vision gives us the first impression of the wine. You need to hold the glass in front of your face and examine the colour. Tilt the glass and let the wine thin out to determine whether it is young or old. If the white wine appears to be more golden, or the red wine appears deeper and intense in colour, the older and more complex the flavour is. Also, pay attention to the clarity of the wine as a cloudy wine indicates it is unfiltered or faulty.

Swirl it

Begin swirling your glass by rotating your wrist and keep an eye out on how fast the wine travels in your glass. You will see droplets, referred to as “legs”, running down the side of the wine glass after swirling. The term legs are used to identify a white or red wine’s body. Thin legs are where a wine that moves like water is equivalent to a lighter body. A lighter body suggests the wines are more fresh, delicate and refined. Thick legs are where wine resembles syrup and has more droplets on the side of the glass, which is equivalent to a fuller body. A thick body implies the wine is extremely rich and mostly has a higher alcohol content.

Smell it

Your sense of smell contributes to 50% of what you taste. It is essential that a good swirl is required to release the aromas of the wine and increase its interaction with oxygen to give you a better tasting experience. Move your nose close to the edge of the wine glass, taking a deep sniff and identify any smell you find familiar. Swirl again and repeat the process several times to get a clearer understanding of your wine.

The aromas of the wine are broken down into 3 main categories:

Primary Aromas
The grape naturally has fruity, herbal and floral aromas – which are smells to distinguish the grape type and the terroir.

Secondary Aromas
These are the smell from the process of making wine. The aromas such as oak, sourdough, yoghurt and butter that are present depend on the type of condition and fermentation of the wine production.

Tertiary Aromas
Tertiary aromas are from the wine’s ageing process. Aromas of coffee, chocolate and toffee are prominent if the wine has been oxidised in oak barrels for a long time. Earthly flavours such as mushroom and vegetables are bold if the ageing process is reductive – which is when the wine is protected in a bottle, avoiding contact with oxygen.

From the wine’s aroma, you can also distinguish the wine’s condition and its faults. For example, if you smell rotten eggs, it is associated with high levels of reduction during wine production. Aromas of toffee, caramel and honey are present due to high oxidation levels, which decreases the wine’s fruity flavour. If there is an aroma of damp cardboard, there may be problems with the cork. The wine can be contaminated with Trichloroanisole (TCA) – a harmless airborne fungus that reduces the freshness and fruity flavour.

Taste it

Finally, you can take your first sip along with some air to release more of the wine’s aromas. Roll the wine over your tongue, and as you swallow the wine, you need to breathe out through your nose and “chew” the wine by coating your mouth like how you would do with mouthwash.

The wine’s sugar, body, tannin and acid components are the most important factors to consider when you taste wine as this changes how you pair it with food.

Sugar
After the fermentation process, the sugar that is left over determines the overall sweetness of the wine. The fruity flavours of the wine can give off an impression that the wine is sweeter. Red wines are generally dry, but some have a hint of sweetness, which is known as “off-dry”.

Body
The body is the general feeling of the wine. Does it feel heavy or light? Does your throat feel fiery after swallowing? With a higher alcohol content, the wine will taste stronger and suggests it has a thicker body.

Tannin
The skin and stem from grapes, mostly red and a few white, cause your lips to stick to your teeth, have a bitter flavour and a dry mouth. Generally, tannins are found in red wine, but a few white wines will taste bitter as they have been heavily oaked during wine production.

Acidity
The acidity of the wine creates a sensation of how fresh and crisp it is. The wine will tastes like a citrus fruit if the acidity is high, and tastes like milk if the acidity is lower. All red, rose and white wines are acidic, but white wines have the highest acidity levels.

The evaluation

Draw your thoughts and sensations after experiencing the wine. There needs to be a balance between the sugar levels, body, tannin and acidity. These components can help you choose which wine you prefer or experiment more with other wines before you find the best wine to suit your palate. You will soon become a wine fanatic after some practice! Eventually, you might want to own a wine collection – you can start off with buying a wine rack for your household.

How to Store your Wine Correctly

Have you ever sat at work and dreamt about your first gorgeous glass of wine that you will be indulging in as soon as you step through the door of your home? Has that dream ever been thwarted when later that evening the cork breaks as you’re trying to open the bottle? If so, the main reason your wine is becoming undrinkable is most likely the way you’re storing your wine bottles. Wine is a very fragile liquid and can often be spoiled when not cared for. Many bottles of wine sit for weeks, months or even years before being opened and enjoyed. If you have ever worried that you are not storing your wine correctly and want some top tips to prevent your wine from becoming spoiled, read on.

Purchase the right wine rack

It is very important that you purchase the right wine storage so that you can stock your wine correctly. You need to have enough space in order to store all of the wine bottles that are going to be stored on it, but also need to make sure you choose the right material and design of your wine rack so that it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb alongside your interior design style.

Store wine on its side

If you decide to store wine standing up, it can (and will) result in the cork drying out and ruining the wine. The dried cork will shrink, resulting in air making its way in the bottle, which can spoil the wine rapidly! It does not matter whether all of the other conditions in which you store your wine are perfect, a dried out cork can turn all expensive wines into salad dressing. By placing the bottle on its side, it means you will keep the cork moist and prevent air from getting into the bottle and ruining your delicious investment.

Keep it chilled

If you didn’t know already, average room temperature is too warm to serve or store your wine. As with most foods, the warmer the temperature of the wine, the faster the wine will go bad and undrinkable. If you have ever accidentally left wine in the car during the summer and then tried having a swig, you will realise how bad it can taste. Leaving a bottle at room temperature can do the same over a long period of time. Room temperature wine tastes duller than a chilled wine, this is why it is better to keep it cool.

Keep it somewhere you can easily select a bottle

It is imperative that when you are trying to decide on what bottle you would like to divulge in that evening, that you know what wines are in your collection and where to find it. Although documenting your collection is helpful, it’s hard to beat a clear visual display of all of your bottles. It should always be as easy as possible to work out what bottles of wine you have available.

How to Care for your Quality Oak Wine Rack

Oak furniture is a very good investment, and proper care of this wood will help it last for many years. Oak has become one of the most popular types of wood type because of its natural durability. This heavy hardwood can endure a lot of wear and tear. The gorgeous grain patterns and intricate shapes make this wood desirable for all types of furniture. The most popular pieces are tables and chairs, but oak wine racks are also extremely desirable and will last a lifetime. If you have a wine rack and are wondering how to get the most out of it, read our top tips on how to care for your oak wine racks.

Cleaning

Your standard household cleaning equipment is quite likely to damage the finish of your oak wine rack over time. Every time you clean your wine rack, you should really be wiping the surface down with a clean, damp cloth. For more serious cleaning jobs (which might lead to staining), blot the rack with a clean, soft, slightly damp cloth. If there is ever a stain on your wine rack that you think looks like it will be too hard to clean yourself, it’s best to contact a professional furniture restorer who will use time-served techniques to get your wine rack back into tip top condition.

Airing out

If your new oak wine rack has been recently oiled, it might have a strong odour. To minimize this, leave it in an open space to help the smell dissipate. You might want to keep windows open or run an air purifier. Oak wine racks will often be oiled before they are packed and shipped. If the smell is strong, consider placing a bowl with baking soda, white vinegar, and activated charcoal near it as this can absorb odours.

Waxing

While everyday wear and tear might take its toll on MDF or wood veneer (both are prone to chipping or peeling), solid hardwood is much more robust. Waxing your oak wine rack regularly conditions the timber and creates a hardwearing, protective seal that better repels water and retains the wood’s optimum moisture levels.

Dusting

Dusting your wine rack should be done regularly and carefully, rubbing in the direction of the wood grain with a soft cloth, so that you don’t accidentally leave scratch marks behind. Be sure to rotate the cloth frequently to remove any of the previous dirt coming back into contact with the wine rack. This should become part of your regular cleaning routine and can be applied to other wooden pieces of furniture.

Quality oak wine racks or wine cabinets will always be a great choice when it comes to wine storage spaces, the finishes available really allow the wine rack to fit in with the mood of your home whilst storing your wine safely and securely.

Wine Pairing 101: What Food Goes With Your Wine?

You’re sat down to dinner at a fancy restaurant that you have had reserved for months. Desperately, you start scanning the food and wine menu and wondering what bottle would go best with what dish. The waiter sympathetically looks down at you as a drop of sweat falls from your brow on to the tablecloth. You expectantly look at your partner in the hope that they will be able to get you out of this uncomfortable mess of an evening. You stutter through ordering your starters and then it comes to ordering the dreaded bottle of wine. Throat tightening, palms sweating, you lean forward and whisper ‘white zinfandel’.

Does this situation ring a bell? Maybe yours wasn’t so dramatic, but we’ve all felt the dread when it comes to ordering wine at a restaurant. We all feel underqualified when trying to pair what food would best go with what wine. Especially if we like are fancy enough to be thinking about looking at wine cellars UK in order to start acquiring a collection of wine. If you find it hard to find that perfect pairing, here are our six top tips when it comes to pairing wine.

Match flavours

Always try to match flavours in the wine with flavours in the food. If the wine has a smoky or oaky aroma, then pair it with a smoky dish. If the wine has a hint of dark berries, then make a sauce that contains similar berries. Pairing wine and food is all about making tastes that match.

Opposites attract

As you may have been able to work out on your own, sweet and sour complement each other very well. You will be able to create a beautiful meal by pouring yourself a large glass of beautifully sweet and fruity wine alongside a salty dish for dinner.  This Chinese realised this a long time ago, hence sweet and sour chicken… yum.

High tannin

If you decide that you would like to pull a bottle of wine from your cabinet that has high tannin, then a nice pairing is to serve foods which fatty proteins, like duck, to counterbalance it. Keep all of the sauces condensed and well-cooked as too much alcohol highlights the tannin. Low tannin wines work well with light white proteins.

High acidity

If you have decided to serve a wine with a rather high acidity. You may want to make a meal with an equal amount of acidity to compliment the dish. This means not using too much salt so you can highlight the wine and compliment it nicely.

Heavy wine

A good pairing to heavy wine might unsurprisingly be heavy food. The rule is that the heavier the wine is, the heavier the food can be. Heavy wines are perfect pairings for meat, roasted or in stews. Meats like wild boar will stand up to a heavy wine.

Delicate Wine

As the same with heavy wine, delicate wine, that you may serve on a wine tasting display rack, needs delicate food and cooking. All food that needs to be eaten with a delicate wine has to be simple. Deep fried meals can ruin a delicate wines flavour. Make sure you know what delicate foods pair well with delicate wines as you can make a mistake quite easily.

Hopefully, now you feel a bit more comfortable with choosing wine in a restaurant. Always remember to try and match flavours that will work well together or are similar. I assume you would know what flavours go together when cooking a meal, so keep the same type of idea in mind when choosing a wine pairing for your food. If you are still struggling, there are lots of sources out there to go and learn about specific flavours that work well with specific foods.

Five Facts You Never Knew About Wine

  1. The Romans came up with the notion of toasting wine

That’s right, not only did the Romans invent concrete, sewers, roads, the calendar, the newspaper and underfloor heating, but they even invented the toast! And who would have guessed that it actually involved real toasted bread! It apparently originated when the Senate made it a requirement that emperor Augusts be honoured with a toast at every meal. They would drop a piece of burnt toast (known as the tostus) into a glass of wine to disguise the wine’s disagreeable flavours and then raise a glass to the guest of honour.

  1. The world’s oldest bottle is… really old

The Speyer wine bottle was uncovered in Germany in 1867 and is believed to be from 325 AD! If this is correct, it is the oldest known unopened bottle of wine in the world. The bottle was discovered during an excavation within a 4th-century AD Roman nobleman’s tomb. One source says the man was a Roman legionary and the wine was a provision for his celestial journey. We know wine is meant to improve with age but we think you might be better off missing this one out if someone starts handing out glasses of this wine!

  1. But it’s not as old as the world’s oldest wine…

The world’s oldest bottle of wine might be almost 1,700 years old, but scientists have recently revealed that they have found pottery fragments which show the earliest evidence of grape wine-making. The fragments are believed to be 8,000 years old and were discovered in two Neolithic villages, called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora. The world’s earliest non-grape based wine is understood to be a fermented alcoholic mixture of rice, honey and fruit dating back to 7,000 BC in China.

 

  1. Tutankhamun loved his wine

Egypt dominated the wine trade between 1550 and 1070 BC, and the Egyptians went about improving it as much as they could. They first created amphorae to make the transportation of wine easier and then they created the wine label. It seems that the 19-year-old King Tut was a fan of the alcoholic grape-based beverage as there were 26 amphorae found in his tomb alongside a wide array of other artefacts. The amphorae were all labelled with extremely specific details regarding the year the wine was made, where it was made, who made it and even the style of wine. They had a rating system of good, great or excellent wine (does this mean they never made a bad bottle?). We wonder if they could have done with some wooden oak wine racks, as the amphorae don’t seem to be very neatly placed!

  1. Some people have a wine phobia

This uncommon fear is called Oenophobia and is the irrational fear of wine. People with Oenophobia have a paralysing fear of seeing the consumption of wine, wine bottles and spilt wine. The disease is related with methyphobia (fear of alcoholic beverages). In both of these cases, the person with the phobia often dislikes these alcoholic drinks as they are afraid that they may suffer severe poisoning when consuming them. Even the idea of this can cause extreme anxiety, tremors, respiratory problems, abdominal pain and nausea.

Unbelievable Facts About Wine

Instead of digging into the scientific statistics and general rumours about modern day wine, we are going to take a step back into history and look at some of the most unbelievable, yet interesting facts about wine which are still unknown to most people to this.