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How To Look Like You Know
What You're Doing at a Wine Tasting

With over 450 appellations and more than 160,000 wineries, France is the perfect country for wine tasting. Lionel Medoc, a sommelier at Parisian wine tasting company Ô Chateau, tells us how to properly sample French wines without making fools of ourselves.

tasting a red wine(1) Look.

When your wine is poured, resist the urge to taste right away and take a second to observe. Check for clarity; a good wine is always quite clear. Note the brightness; the brighter the wine, the more dry and acidic the taste. Now tilt your wine glass and observe the color of the meniscus, or edge, of the liquid.

With reds, a bright meniscus signifies an older, better wine; with whites, it's just the opposite.

(2) Smell.

Now lean over your glass and inhale deeply.

What's your first impression? Does the wine seem balanced? Do you like the smell? "Don't be afraid to express yourself when talking about wine," says Lionel. Now swirl the wine a bit in your glass (be careful of spills!) and inhale again. This time, try to pick out the different aromas in the wine. Are there hints of citrus? Coffee? Spice? Again, share your opinion and don't fret if you smell wet leather while everyone else identifies hints of vanilla; wine tasting is meant to be completely subjective.

(3) Taste.

You've been waiting long enough; now it's time for the main event. Take a small sip and swish the wine around in your mouth. Is it light or heavy? Dry or sweet? Note the aftertaste; generally speaking, the longer the aftertaste the better the wine.

You can also try a little connoisseur trick: take a sip of wine, stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth and gently suck in air, making a gargling sound. The process is less than elegant, but it releases hidden flavors in the wine for a more complete experience. Now, either swallow the wine or discreetly spit it out in the provided canister, and wait for the next round.


About the Author... Jessica Arriola Marati

also see related tips -> How to Choose a Good Wine

More information on wine tasting around the Web:

How to Taste Wine

Wine Tasting Guy Blog

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