Tips for an enjoyable wine tasting experience for everyone

Whether you’re going to a wine festival, wine touring visiting one tasting room to the next or meeting up with fellow wine lovers, it’s important to keep your senses sharp in order to take in as much of each wine as possible. I’ve been tasting a lot of wine at a set amount of time lately, and I’ve discovered that your senses can get overwhelmed faster than you think. Here are some tips to help you combat sensory fatigue.

Ditch the perfume.

no-perfume

Image source: Blue Grouse Wines Instagram. Click here to visit their IG page.

My number one piece of advice. This includes anything scented: cologne, body sprays, scented lotion and even hair products. These scents interfere with not only your wine tasting experience, but others around you too, overpowering the subtleties of the tasty liquid in the glass. Do yourself and others a favour and do not wear or apply anything on that gives off a scent.

Spit.

wine spit bucket

Not your typical looking spit bucket.

It’s okay to spit the wine. Staying sober will allow you to appreciate even more wines appropriately. That is, while your senses are still sharp. After all, that’s why you’re attending the wine tasting right? To discover more tasty wines. It would be a shame to only properly discover 3 or 4 when it could’ve easily been 10 or 15!

Drink water.

drink-water

Whether or not you spit, stay hydrated. Water acts as a palate cleanser, too. We all know it’s particularly important to drink water when consuming alcohol, so please always have water when wine tasting.

Taste with a full stomach.

wine and food

Meatballs, olives, grapes, cheese and crackers. Just some food to try with a ‘big red’ tasting I did with friends.

Just like not drinking water, we all know what happens when you have alcohol without food in your system. You get drunk, fast. Being hungry is never pleasant, so even if you decide to taste and spit, you want the experience to be a good one. Don’t taste wine on an empty stomach.

If you’re at a wine festival or visiting tasting rooms and they offer food, eat. If you’re getting together with other winos, make sure there’s food.

Ask questions. 

Dunham Cellars

This lovely young lady at Dunham Cellars could spit out facts about the winery and Walla Walla like she owns it.

Wherever you’re tasting wines, ask questions. Whether it’s pertaining to the wine region, terroir, wine maker, characteristics of the wine, good food pairings, or thoughts on the wine, ask questions. When wine lovers unite, you learn so much simply by asking.

Got any tips or suggestions for a great wine tasting experience? I’d love to hear some – leave a comment below.

3 Wine Myths Dispelled

screw cap wine

Last month, I talked about screw cap wines and how they’re perceived as being lower quality compared to wines sealed with a cork. Today, I want to dispel a few more myths.

Food pairing with red or white wine

Myth: White wines pair well with white meats and red wines with red meat.

Truth: Although the above can be true, it’s not always. When pairing food and wine, you have to consider other ingredients like spices, sauce, richness. Let’s take fish for example. If the sauce described on the menu is strong, you may want to consider a red that will match the flavour intensity.

Quality of inexpensive wine

Myth: If the wine (750 mL) is under $15, it must be not-so-great or at the very most, just drinkable.

Truth: Here in Canada, we pay a lot for decent wine compared to our neighbours down south and certainly compared to the rest of world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a good bottle at an affordable price (under $20). In fact, a wine that I bring to dinner parties where I know people don’t share the same appreciation for wine retails for around $12 here. A very good Malbec is about $12 here, too.

malbec

FYI – it’s a screw cap as well!

Aged wine

Myth: Wine gets better with age.

Truth: Most wines are meant to be consumed within a couple of years of bottling. Unless you have the right temperature control, and you’re aware of what an age-worthy wine is like, you’re better off opening that bottle you just got. In fact, it’s an educated guessing game for wine experts. Sometimes keeping it too long ruins the wine, sometimes it’s perfect, and sometimes after tasting the wine, you conclude that it could’ve seen some more time in the cellar.

I’m sure there are a more myths I can address. What have I missed? Is there anything you’re uncertain about? Please leave me a comment below.

Pad Thai, Spring Rolls and Wine

Pad Thai and deep fried spring rolls are two of my favourites from the Asian cuisine. This past weekend, the bf and I had a couple friends over for dinner and regardless of what else I serve, I like to always have spring rolls out as appies. Not to brag or anything, but my spring rolls are mmm mmm good!

spring rolls

My spring rolls!

One day, when I measure the ingredients, I’ll post my recipe here. My Pad Thai is sometimes delish and sometimes just okay. It was the latter this past weekend, in my opinion.

Pad Thai and Spring Rolls Wine Pairing

Let’s think about what Pad Thai and spring rolls are like. They’re both greasy! And what pairs well with greasy food? A wine high in acidity. People automatically think of having a Gerwurtztraminer or Riesling.

Gerwurtztraminer

Had this Gerwurtztraminer with my Pad Thai a few months ago and it was good!

These are great options especially if the Pad Thai is spicy. The sweetness of these wines coats your mouth from the heat.

Certainly, the above-mentioned work, but you know what I think is an even better pairing for Pad Thai? Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what we had, plus a bottle of Riesling. Did you notice that when you order Pad Thai, a lemon or lime wedge is almost always included? Sauvignon Blanc has a citrusyness to it that obviously complements Pad Thai well. It was great with the spring rolls, too.

Watermelon and Sauvignon Blanc

What wasn’t so great was when after dinner I had some watermelon, then a sip of Sauv Blanc and all I could taste was lemon in my mouth. Although it wasn’t the most pleasant surprise, it was a good reminder that what you drink with your food can make or break the experience.

It just occurred to me then that Sauv Blanc may go well with pho. Mmm, gonna have to try that! Have you paired pho with Sauv Blanc? Ha! Have you had pho with wine? Let me know what successful and/or failed pairings you’ve had in the comments below.

Update on this Wino’s Journey

I wasn’t going to make an announcement here until I got my hands on it. Feels more official that way, but it’s not going to be for a while. When the WSET 3 exam time ran out, I felt relieved for a split second followed by worry for a few days. I failed, I thought.

Back in February, I got the official word… I passed the WSET 3 exam!

Woot! Yes, I passed! Not only that, I achieved merit, which means my mark was anywhere between 65% to 79%. I was so happy! I’m still happy. These past few weeks though, I’ve been thinking about how I can improve without the stress. I’m not ready to take on level 4. I need a break from the intensity and there’s an outlying part of this journey that I want to visit. You can’t argue that wine doesn’t greatly enhance the gastronomic experience. So, although I plan on pursuing my wine studies further, I think I need to become more of a foodie. I have to admit that my knowledge of spices and ingredients is limited to Asian cuisine. This pursuit should be enjoyable enough. I am a food monster, after all! I want to refine myself in said arena to be a more well-rounded information source, and to discover even more delights in the marriage of food and wine.

What does all this mean? I’m paying more attention to what is in my food and the preparation of it when I go out to eat. I’m experimenting with new recipes, more so than before. And for the time being, I’m slowing down this journey, savouring it. I’ve been shy about writing food pairings, and this would be the perfect opportunity to change that. Hope you’ll continue to follow along.