Douglas Blyde–food writer, photographer, sommelier, and professional bon vivant—demystifies (and amuses) with his tips on the proper way to taste wine.
Dozens of food and wine writers, as well as lifestyle bloggers and thirsty folks in general, are gathered on a rooftop in Shoreditch at picnic tables glittering with glass. No less than five vessels are placed in front of each seat’s occupant. These are rapidly filling with various waterlemon shades of Rosé d’Anjou Loire Valley wines as nimble waitresses navigate their way through the impromptu, tented dining room atop the Queen of Hoxton pub.
“So, how do you taste wine?” asks Blyde, who is presiding over the head table. “We could do it the English way, which is to hold the glass in an elegant manner, raise it to your mouth…and keep going,” he quips.
In fact, as Blyde is about to explain, it’s not entirely that easy.
So, here’s your step-by-step guide to impressing your date—and possibly even a French sommelier.
Clockwise or counterclockwise—it doesn’t seem to matter, as far as I can tell–unless you’re an adherent of the Coriolis effect, which allegedly causes toilets to flush clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. In which case, always swirl clockwise if you’re tasting an Australian shiraz.
2. Admire the legs
Not your date’s legs. (You can do that later by discreetly dropping your napkin under the table). At the moment, however, you’re looking for the “cathedral windows” or “legs” of the wine, which cling to the side of the glass.
“The more legs you see, the merrier you will be, the higher the AVB,” Blyde explains.
(Translation: more legs equals higher alcohol.) “The longer they linger,” our sommelier adds, “the sweeter the wine.”
3. Check the colour and clarity
Hold the glass against a white background. If you ordered white wine and the liquid inside the glass is red, there’s an obvious problem. If the fluid is pink, you’re either drinking a rosé, or you’ve accidentally mixed your red together with your white.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. The colour of a wine can tell you a bit about its age, as well as offer hints about how it will taste. For instance, with a rosé, such as we’re drinking this evening, a deeper colour indicates that the grape skins have spent more time with the juice, potentially producing a more tannic, bolder wine.
Plus, as Blyde notes (jokingly…I think), “You want to make sure there are no UFO’s—unidentified floating objects…like seven-legged spiders.”
(Although, if you do find a seven-legged spider, it could be worth $10,000. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/paying-bills-with-spider-drawings-seven-legged-spider)
“Give it a good old sniff, like a perfume sample,” Blyde suggests. What aromas do you detect? Waterlemon? Strawberries? Your neighbour’s overwhelming aftershave?
Note: this should not sound like you’re clearing your sinuses from last winter’s cold. Keep it discreet, people.
There’s really no other way of saying it. Wait…maybe there is. “Aerate the wine with your tongue.” It’s hard to describe, but it might help if you pretend that you’re from the House of Slytherin.
“Draw 12 seconds of air,” Blyde instructs, before drawing about five seconds of air—and unceremoniously choking.
“I didn’t quite make it 12 seconds,” he grins sheepishly, “but I’ve been told that before.”
(Did I mention that Blyde, who admits his wardrobe is already “quite filled with different hats,” would make a great stand-up comedian, as well?)
I’m fairly certain this requires no instruction. If it does, then put the glass down, carefully. You’ve already had quite enough there, buddy.
7. Repeat, omitting steps 1-5.
Check out Douglas Blyde’s food, wine and spirits reviews, as well as his travel adventures: www.intoxicatingprose.com.
For updates on the Queen of Hoxton’s special events: www.queenofhoxton.com.
Learn about Rosé d’Anjou Loire Valley wines: http://loirevalleywine.com/regions/anjou/rose-danjou.
Read more about the event from some fabulous bloggers here: