Become Wine Savvy
Sometimes, discussions about wine sound complicated, and showy, when the reality is that a bottle of wine is a simple, lovely and perfectly natural accompaniment to a meal.
When I first got involved with wine and attended a seminar I was a bit abashed to follow the actions of my fellow attendees, but there they were holding their glasses up and squinting into the light, swirling the wine around and sticking their noses deep into the glass, taking a mouthful and swishing the wine around before swallowing. It took me a while to join in, I admit, but when I overcame my reluctance I learned the logic in this pretentious procedure.
It is not necessary to squint, swirl, swish and gurgle to enjoy wine. But using the following low key steps will help you appreciate the wine you drink. A glass of wine can bring a lot of pleasure to life. Here is a simple strategy to enjoy the taste of wine and put your senses to full use.
Look at the wine – Grasp the glass by the stem. You want to see the wine clearly and you don’t want to warm it up by letting the bowl of the glass sit in the palm of your hand. Some wine geeks hold the glass by the base. I think that’s a bit much. Hold the glass up to the light so you can see the wine’s color. Whites can vary from colorless to straw-coloured. Reds can range from deep ruby to pinkish. Color is an important aesthetic impression wine can make — just like appetizing food tastes better than a poorly presented dish. As an example: a deep ruby-coloured wine can seem richer and more flavourful than a pale one.
Smell the wine – Just as every rose has its own scent, so does almost every wine. Good wine smells wonderful. Its fragrance is called the bouquet or nose. With a little bit of experience you may find hints of plum, apple, strawberries, pepper, or chocolate to name just a few. After you have inspected the wine, swirl it around in the glass. This brings the wine in contact with air which releases the esters — liquids that contain the wine’s aromatic qualities. More air means more bouquet.
Taste the wine – Take a sip and swirl it around in your mouth, over your tongue, around the sides of your mouth. Suck some air in and gurgle (don’t do this at the dinner table). This seems silly but it puts more of the wine in contact with the air and brings out delicious flavours and sends flavours up toward your olfactory bulb, which is behind the top of your nose. It’s the spot where you get a headache when you eat ice cream too fast. You will likely recognize sensations of sweetness and acidity. Is the wine crisp, with acidity balancing out the sweetness or fruitiness? How does the wine feel in your mouth? Do you like the taste and feel of this wine? Try to describe it to yourself. Then swallow.
The finish – Don’t tune out the moment you swallow. Some sensations remain in the mouth for a relatively long time which creates the pleasure of drinking them. Some wines have very little finish which doesn’t mean they aren’t good wines, just that a long finish isn’t their style. But the finish should be pleasant and clean tasting. Turn on your senses. As you drink wine over time, your senses will become more attuned to the subtle aromas and tastes, and you’ll become more confident about deciding what you like.
Winemakers aren’t satisfied to simply make wonderful wines and have them sit in bottles. Winemakers are only truly fulfilled when appreciative people open the bottles and savour a glass or two.
“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Shakespeare’s Juliet. But why are roses grown in vineyards? The same diseases that afflict grapevines will more quickly register on the less resistant rose bushes, giving me, the grape grower, a chance to eradicate them before they do any lasting damage. And thanks to my gardener wife, Marg, it adds aesthetic beauty to our vineyard.
Celista Estate Winery is located on the north shore of Shuswap Lake in the interior of British Columbia.
Find more information by visiting our website at
www.celistawine.com. Or pay a visit to the winery at 2319 Beguelin Road, Celista, British Columbia. Telephone: 250-955-8600. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Shuswap Wine Journal - A collection of published local and regional newspaper articles written by Jake Ootes in Fall 2014