It is a common misconception that wine tasting amounts to merely sipping, swishing and swallowing and this couldn't be further from the truth for the avid connoisseur. There is a definite art to wine tasting that takes years of studied practice to master.
The art of wine tasting is used to distinguish fine wines and relies on a trained palate, often acquired over many years. If stored properly and aged correctly, wine can be an exquisite experience.
The foundation of wine tasting is actually rooted in our sense of smell. In fact, over 75% of our taste is actually due to our sense of smell and has a major impact on the taste of the food and drink we consume. And this is also why when we have a cold our sense of taste is so distorted. Most wine experts will agree that wine has more to do with smell than taste, but that is often where the agreement stops and personal preference takes center stage.
Proper wine tasting is initiated with the swishing that is most familiar to novices. The purpose of this activity is to circulate the taste of the wine by moving it between the front and back areas of the mouth in order to reach the taste buds contained in the tongue.
Taste buds don't necessarily have a noted taste factor, but they are capable of properly identifying food and beverages that are sweet, salty, and bitter with no problems at all. So the process of swishing is more about giving the senses an opportunity to extract the aromatic flavors in the wine being tested.
Understanding the fundamentals of swishing allows the connoisseur to move on to the three basic principles of the art of judging a fine wine - observing, smelling, and finally tasting.
Upon pouring the wine into a crystal clear glass, the first step is to take a considered look at the sampling. This is not a step to be rushed as a great deal can be ascertained during this step. Despite their name, white wines are actually not white as much as they are golden, pale brown or with a slight tinge of green. On the other hand, red wine is typically a dark pink hue or leaning toward dark brown in color.
The second step is closely observing the smell of the wine that is actually accomplished in a two-step fashion. First you should take a brief whiff of the wine to get a general idea of what you are dealing with. Next, you will take an extended, deep drawn in smell in order take in the full aroma of the beverage.
You will often see the most studied of experts pause at this stage to take in the results of this step and reflect on what they have just experienced.
Finally, the connoisseur is ready to engage in the actual tasting of the wine and this is accomplished by first taking a sip, swishing to bring out the bold or subtle flavors of the sampling. Only after this step will you then fully savor the overall flavor once you swallow the sip you have taken.
Having completed the steps of observing, smelling and finally tasting the wine, you will then be able to discern the quality of the wine from a connoisseurs standpoint. This is the most comprehensive way to determine the aging, storage and overall fitness of the wine for consumption. And as with any skill, the more practiced you become, the more adept you will be at evaluating the unique and exciting flavors of this special beverage.