Unlike other beverages, drinking wine is generally a tasting experience that can be likened to enjoying a meal. If you want to get the most out of a glass of wine (with or without alcohol), it’s beneficial to develop the skills of wine tasting. Once you’re able to differentiate between characteristics and identify your preferences in a bottle of wine, you’ll be able to make better selections when purchasing our de-alcoholised and alcohol-free wines.
Gaining an appreciation for wine isn’t only for the elite or professional wine tasters. Anyone can do it and with Zero Wines, we promote inclusivity by providing access for a wide range of non-alcoholic wines for those who cannot or choose not to drink alcohol!
Today we’re teaching you the “5 S’s of Wine Tasting” to debunk the myth that wine tasting is intimidating.
Before you even bring the glass to your lips, start with your eyes. Colours give an indication of what you might taste later on. Preferably hold your wine glass against a white background to observe its colour and opacity accurately.
Typically, wine that has been aged in oak is darker in colour, and white wines gain colour as they age while red wine lose colour. For example, if it’s a white wine, is it pale or gold in colour? Turning to the opacity, ask yourself if it’s clear enough to read through or if it’s cloudy and more opaque.
The next step is often skipped by beginners, usually because they don’t understand the value of it. Swirling helps to assess the viscosity of wine, as well as expose it to oxygen.
Start by swirling the glass on the table for 5-10 seconds and take note of how rapidly the ‘legs’ slide down the glass. The slower the legs swirl back down, the higher the viscosity of the wine which indicates higher sugar levels and higher alcohol content. Swirling also aerates the wine which brings out layered or hidden aromas; therefore, it should not be skipped before smelling.
Since smell is one of the main senses used in wine tasting, sniffing is imperative before sipping. Firstly, take a few brief sniffs of the aromas that surfaced when swirling the wine. Next, get closer to the rim of the glass and inhale through your nose while exhaling through the mouth. This allows you to detect the finer aromatic layers of the wine.
Now for the main event. Take a slightly larger sip than usual but don’t swallow immediately. You’ll want to let it swirl in your mouth for about 3-5 seconds to coat your taste buds. While you do this, try to see if you can taste the same flavours you smelled. Take note of the mouthfeel: if it makes your mouth water, it usually means it’s higher in acidity while a drier mouthfeel indicates higher tannin levels, usually found in reds.
Also try to identify the predominant flavour profile you’re tasting: acidity, bitterness, fruitiness, sweetness, and saltiness. When it comes to low and no-alcohol wines, you might notice a lack of alcohol taste. Rather than letting this spoil the wine tasting, try to keep an open mind. If you consider non-alcoholic wine as an entirely new drink with its own unique characteristics, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for it.
The tasting experience doesn’t stop after you swallow. Now you get to savour the aftertaste on your palate. You can assess two things here: how long the taste lingers and how balanced the wine is. The sensation of taste lingering is called the finish. Ask yourself if it has a short or a long finish. Now, think about if one of the flavour profiles overshadowed the rest, or if it was well-balanced.
And that’s all there is to it! It might seem like a lot at first but remember what we said in the beginning. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass without these tasting processes. However, if you want to ‘make a meal’ of it, these steps are essential to enhance your non-alcoholic wine tasting experience.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge, why not host a non-alcoholic wine tasting in the comfort of your own home to teach your friends and family? As they say, practice makes perfect. We suggest ordering a mixed non-alcoholic wine case from our online shop to get the best value and expose your taste buds to a range of wines. Now the fun begins!