For many, drinking wine is a simple pursuit. They’re quaffing it down and enjoying the colors, scents, flavors and textures without a thought.
That’s good by me.
But for those that want to explore a glass of wine more, to think about it, savor it and evaluate it – those are the people this column is for.
Most wine lovers have probably read a tasting note in a magazine or seen a shelf talker in a store, what with their heavy-duty descriptors of “boysenberry, tar and just a flutter of Edam cheese.” This can be intimidating or even scary for some people. The wine snobbery quotient on a tasting note like that is off the charts.
But the fact is, most wine lovers can do a pretty darn good job of evaluating and describing wine with whatever real life experience they’ve had … just living their day-to-day lives.
We all know the difference between clear and cloudy or vibrant and dull. We know what an apple or a cherry smells or tastes like. We’ve had water and milk. With those simple life lessons, we’re well on our way to being a perfectly accomplished evaluator of wine, no Edam cheese needed.
Here’s a perfectly good descriptor as an example of what I’m talking about:
This chardonnay is a pale yellow and a little cloudy. (Easy enough, right?)
On the nose (it smells like) it has apple and some tropical fruit.
In the mouth (it tastes like) it has apple, a little bit of pear, tropical fruit and a buttery (think movie popcorn) finish.
It’s medium-bodied (somewhere in thickness between water and milk).
What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. It’s a perfectly fine descriptor that hits all the major wine touch-points. Very nice and very lovely.
So the next time you sit down with a glass of wine, give it a good once over. What color is it? Is it clear or cloudy? Is the color vibrant or dull? What does it smell like? And here, fellow wine lovers, “color families” are perfectly fine (think red fruit – cherry, raspberry, strawberry – is that the general feeling you’re getting from the wine? If so, stick with “red fruit,” that’s perfectly acceptable). What does it taste like? How’s the body – is it more like water or more like milk?
Those are the steps. Easy, right? And that’s it. You’re now evaluating wine, no experience necessary.