Obviously, I’m not an expert in anything oenophile related. Hooch, swill and plonk, yes. But fine wines? Well, let’s just say I’m a life long learner who doesn’t mind studying.
After recently spending a week along the wine trail of the Okanagan Valley, I was able to pick up a few tips from the pro’s. When faced with several wine flights in wine country, it’s all about pacing yourself. And moderation. Two things that aren’t my forte. Nevertheless, here are some suggestions you might find handy if you ever go wine tasting.
Best food to pair with wine when tasting
Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, not guzzled down in great gulps (whoops). Be sure to have a variety of little nibbles to accompany your tasting. Some suggestions include:
- Popcorn: plain, buttered or topped with a flavoured olive oil (truffle is quite nice)
- Cured meats
- Dark chocolate
How to evaluate wine
Now onto the tricky part, how to judge the wines. There’s three main points to take into consideration.
1. Appearance: Take a look at your glass. Go ahead and hold it up to the light, Check out its colour, clarity and depth.
2. Nose: Swirl the wine around in your glass, but not too vigorously, you know. The exception to this is if you’re tasting sparkling wine. You don’t want to blow the bubbles off or else it’ll quickly go flat. Next, take a big whiff and consider the scent. Is it intense or weak? Can you pick up any fruit characteristics?
3. Palate: Now comes the best part – tasting. You don’t have to get all, “I’m picking up hints of tobacco,” just close your eyes, and think about what you’re tasting. Is it sweet? Boozy? Slightly acidic? Do you notice any fruits or earthy tones?
After your first sniff, swirl, sip
You did all the things. You threw it back. So what did you think? Did it taste balanced? Mature? What’s your personal take on what you just sampled?
Now try a bite of food and taste the wine again. I bet you’ll find some differences this time around.
Wine tasting at Sumac Ridge
I learned all these tips from my tasting experience at Sumac Ridge. Sumac is one of the pioneers one of the wine business in the Okanagan as they were one of the first estate wineries. They also produced the first vintages of sparkling wine in the region. Some execs from Veuve Clicquot recently popped in for a tasting. Rumor has it they were particularly pleased Steller’s Jay Sparkling Pinnacle ($35) was not available for export. We’re keeping all that goodness for ourselves, thank you very much.
Have you ever gone wine tasting at a vineyard? Where are your favourite tasting rooms?