Well, you’ve made it this far, having successfully examined, swirled, smelled, and described the wine you hold in your hand. Now comes the moment of truth – the tasting.
First, sip a nice mouthful of wine and then, with your lips pursed in an ‘o’ shape, suck in just enough air to create bubbles within your mouth. Then, tilt your head back slightly and allow the wine to sit in the back of your mouth for a while. This will allow the passage between your mouth and your nasal cavities to open up, improving your sensory experience as your sense of smell detects the wine as well. When you do this, it increases the flavor potential and encourages the aftertaste to linger.
Next, gently swill the wine around your mouth, allowing it to smoothly travel over your palate and tongue. At this point, you will begin to notice different characteristics like sweetness, acidity, tannins, bitterness, and alcohol. The best possible combination of these characteristics produces a wine in which all these flavors are noticeable, yet no one flavor overpowers any of the others. This is called a ‘balanced wine’; it is the ideal which every winemaker seeks to replicate and each well-crafted vintage seeks to possess.