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Archive for the 'Wine Tasting' Category

Wine Wisdoms #52: What is a Tastevin?

Monday, April 5th, 2010 at 3:33:35 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

A Tastevin is a silver wine-tasting cup that hangsTastevin from a chain, like a necklace. Tastevins were originally used in dark wine caves in Burgundy. The dimples at the bottom of the tastevin caused light to reflect in the wine so the winemaker could assess clarity.

Though typically considered to be an old-fashioned style, some sommeliers still wear them, though they serve little purpose.

Wine Wisdoms #33: The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting (Taste Like the Experts)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009 at 11:53:27 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

5 S’s of Wine Tasting If you’ve ever been confused by all the swirling and sniffing that goes on at a wine tasting, the 5 S’s are a great place to start. These are the basics steps one should go through when tasting wine, in order to appreciate it to the fullest.

See- All wine tasting begins by holding the glass up to a good light and then, ideally, viewing the glass against a white surface. Your wine color should be clear and not opaque unless you have an aged wine with a ton of sediment. Take a moment to note the color. If it is a white wine is it: Yellow? Gold? Straw colored? Water white? If it is a red wine would you call it: Ruby? Purple? Garnet? Wines can range dramatically in color depending on the type of grape used to make the wine and how long the wine sat with the skins or macerated. As wines age they get lose color so a good look at the color of the wine can tell you a bit about how old it is. Also, notice the streams of water on the sides of your glass. These are called legs. Legs are a point of contention as some affirm that the more legs a wine has, the better the wine. Others claim that legs denote sugar or alcohol content. There are also those who say that legs do not mean anything!

Sniff- The next step is to give your wine a nice big sniff. Don’t be shy. Stick your nose way into the bowl of the glass and try to decipher the smells. Remember that wine tasting can be subjective and there are no right or wrong answers. Do you smell fruit? If so, what kind of fruit is it? Is it a black fruit? A tropical fruit? Does your wine smell like oak? Or, is it difficult to smell anything at all? This is certainly possible if you have yet to swirl your wine.

Swirl- After your initial sniff, hold your wine at the base and lightly swirl the wine in your glass. Get a nice momentum going with your wrist. The swirling process sends oxygen through the wine, expands the surface area and allows the aromas to open up. This is sometimes called “swirling the esters.”

Sniff- Now, smell your wine again. Do you notice a change? There should be a remarkable difference between your pre-swirl and post-swirl sniff. If not, work your wine a bit more and give it some time to open. Try your best to pinpoint the aromas and write them down if you’d like.

Sip- Finally, take a nice big sip of your wine. Let the wine spread out across your mouth, curl your tongue, and breathe in air through your tongue. This will send air through the wine once again while in your mouth and allow it to open even further. What do you taste? Sweetness? Dryness? Spice? Fruitiness? The sky is the limit! Did the taste surprise you? Was it similar on the palate to the nose? After you swallow, take a minute to notice the finish and the length of the wine. The “finish” is the after-taste and the “length” is the period of time that it lingers. A really good wine will have a pleasing finish and a very long length. A poor wine falls flat very quickly.

Now you are ready to taste with the experts!

For more help on wine tasting, check out our wine tasting tool collection.

Top Regions for Great Buys in 2008

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 5:14:55 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Last week, we announced our Top 100 Best Buys of 2008, these represent quality wines with a suggested retail price no more than $15. These wines offer outstanding value and are a great springboard for building an everyday wine collection. Like we did with the Enthusiast 100, I analyzed the list only this time to determine the best wine-producing regions for value. Refer to this list when you’re next in a wine shop, looking for the most bang for your buck:

  • Countries with the most Best Buy wines in the Top 100 are the U.S (28), Chile (15), Australia (10), Spain (10) and Portugal (9)
  • At the lowest end of the price range, for just $8, you find wines rated 87+ from California, Central Valley (Chile), Columbia Valley (Washington), Portugal and Spain.
  • Other hot regions to look for: Mendoza (Argentina), Provence (France), Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma, California), and Stellenbosch (South Africa)
  •  The list crosses a wide spectrum of wine styles including everything from Pinotage to Albarino to Bordeaux and the Douro, showing that you can find great wines of every style, at low price points. Why spend a lot for great wine?

What are some of your favorite great buys this year? Where are you seeing the most value?

Top 100 Best Buy Regions

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Enthusiast 100: By the Numbers

Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 4:12:12 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Each year during holiday time, the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine compile their much-anticipated Top 100 Wines lists. They are printed in the January issue which hits news stands in a few weeks but we’ve released a sneak preview to e-mail subscribers. (If you are not a subscriber and you’d like to be, please submit your e-mail address here) Four lists are created: The Enthusiast 100, Top 100 Cellar Selections, Top 100 Best Buys, and Top 50 Spirits (coming soon). Perhaps the most buzzworthy is the Enthusiast 100, which represents the most diverse and dynamic wines available, offering extraordinary quality at the price of affordable luxury.

Hosting a Wine Tasting Party: 10 Tips and Tools

Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 6:17:37 PM
by Francis J., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Tasting PartyThere’s much talk about wine appreciation as a social exercise—a way to connect with friends and family while learning about a topic that’s undeniably entertaining. Hosting a wine tasting party sets a stage for fun exchanges and surprising discoveries. Add flavorful food to the mix and you pretty much guarantee a good time for anyone with a pulse. But how to plan it? Wine tasting parties needn’t be a study in luxury—many of the best gatherings are simply organized, and don’t break the bank, making them an ideal choice for tight times.

Wine Wisdoms #5: The Pivotal Judgment of Paris 1976

Monday, November 17th, 2008 at 12:11:41 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Judgment of Paris BookThe Judgment of Paris was a pivotal moment in the history of California wines. In May 1976, a British wine merchant arranged a blind tasting of French and California wines (Cabernet vs. Classified Bordeaux and Chardonnay vs. top White Burgundies) to be judged by France’s foremost wine industry experts. The results launched California wines onto the world stage as Stag’s Leap Cask 23 was chosen the top red over, Mouton-Rothschild, Haut Brion, Montrose and others and Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was the number one white ahead of Batard-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles, Beaune Clos des Mouches and others. The Judgment of Paris was also the focus of the feature film “Bottle  Shock,” which released this Fall.

Read more about California wines at Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s West Coast editor Steve Heimoff’s blog, UnReserved