As you sip your favorite glass of wine over dinner, you are probably not thinking in detail how it looks, smells, and even tastes – you are enjoying it because it is compatible with your taste preferences. And the only reason you have your go-to wine favorites is because you have tried a variety of wine and know which ones you enjoy more than others.
But did you know that there is actually a science behind wine tasting? When you “taste” wine, you are doing more than just determining whether you merely like it or not. You don’t need to do this when you drink wine, of course, but it is interesting to discover how your senses – specifically sight, smell, and taste – can help you uncover more about wine than you ever thought possible.
For some, sight is the least important of the three senses used when “tasting” wine. Others believe that a true taste test should be done blind, with no distinctive characteristics of the wine being obvious – hue or shape of bottle. So let’s uncover the science behind smelling and tasting wine:
You already know that smell plays a major factor when it comes to food, so it should make sense that it also plays a big part when drinking wine as well. Smell is actually more complicated than you may think. When we smell something, we are smelling it both externally and internally.
The former is more obvious because that is what we commonly perceive as smelling. During a wine tasting, you put your nose to the glass and breathe in the aroma coming from the wine. But you can also smell things internally as well. There are internal nares that can be found inside your mouth that go to your nose. When you take the first sip of wine, the “flavors” that you are tasting are actually a result of smell. This helps you detect the undertones of fruit, spice, or herbs, for example, within the wine.
There is a minimum of four primary tastes that we can identify when eating or, in this case, drinking wine due to the taste buds on our tongues: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness. These will help you to assess the taste structure of the particular wine you are drinking.
The next time you buy your favorite bottle of wine, go through the steps of replicating a “wine wasting” in your home to truly see if you can identify the characteristics of the wine, from its aroma to its flavor.