How to taste
To taste wine properly requires suitable glassware. A suitable glass should be colourless and made of thin glass. It should have a long stem and a rounded bowl, narrowing towards the rim, to aid in evaluating the wine aromas.
The wine should be served at the temperature indicated on the back label of the bottle. If this information is not available, red wines should be served between 16 and 18°C, and white wines between 9 and 12°C.
Wine tasting is an analysis based on sensory data. Therefore, once the wine is in the glass, all senses need to be called upon in order to carry out a comprehensive tasting.
The Wine Tasting Sequence
STAGE 1 – APPEARANCE
First of all, the colour of the wine is observed; its clarity, brightness and intensity. In the case of sparkling wine, the size and persistence of the bubbles after the initial mousse (foam) has disappeared are noted.
This stage begins by smelling the wine and concludes when the wine is on the palate (retro-olfaction). The complexity of aromas from the wine is assessed. The range of aromas can be extensive, and identifying individual aromas will always depend on the olfactory memory and expertise of the taster. In the case of many Alentejo red wines aromas of ripe fruit, wild berries and new oak are quite obvious, while white wines impart tropical fruits, nutty and mineral aromas. Some wine defects can also be detected at this stage (e.g. if the wine is corked, smells musty, or of vinegar).
STAGE 2 – NOSE
This stage involves assessing the impressions created by the wine on the palate; including the initial sensations (the ‘attack’); how it tastes (acid, bitter, salty, sweet); and the assessment of its body, texture and other characteristics.
STAGE 3 – PALATE
Once swallowed (or spat out), the wine leaves an assortment of sensations in the mouth. How long those sensations linger (persistence), and the flavours and finish of the wine are noted at this stage.
STAGE 4 – CONCLUSIONS
Once these four stages of the tasting have been carried out, a number of conclusions can be drawn about the wine. These include the wine´s particular uniqueness, balance, harmony, "typicity", etc.