HERE IS THE THING. WINE tasting is both an art and science because from my experience at wine tasting sessions, a majority of people regard wine tasting as something difficult to understand and master.
My reply to them is that wine tasting is not difficult. It is something that some say needs talent but it is also something that definitely can be mastered through time and tasting. Yes, you got it right, the more you taste, the more you will know but of course, you need some basics to begin with.
3 Major Steps
The wine tasting process can be divided to 3 major steps. First, you see, then you smell, and lastly you taste.
Among the 3, the easiest to master would be the taste and trust me, mastering this alone would get you sounding like a sommelier.
So, for the taste you just have to remember this acronym: B-A-T-S. Yes BATS. Easy to remember, right?
Let’s start with B. B stands for Body. When we talk about wine body, it would fall as light, medium or heavy. Body is a sense of weight or richness or heaviness, or even the feeling of viscosity that a wine leaves in your mouth. Imagine milk, if it is low fat, natural fresh milk and full cream, how viscous is it? That is the same with wines. A quick clue on this for red wine is if you try to shine some light through the wines in the glass. Is it easy to see through or is it opaque?
Second, A stands for acidity. Acidity is a wine’s “pucker” or tartness; it’s what makes a wine refreshing and your tongue salivate and want another sip. The easiest way to think about acidity is to think about a glass of lemonade. That pucker you get when you drink the lemonade, combined with the refreshment the lemonade gives you, is acidity. It’s what makes that lemonade great to drink on its own and also pair well with food. Classify the wine you’re tasting as high, medium or low.
Third, T stands for tannin. Tannin is a substance that exists naturally in the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes. Generally, it is similar like the bitterness you get from drinking tea and red wines has more tannin than white wines. As the Chinese always mention the “siap siap” taste, that is pointing at the tannin. It is quite common among the guys to have an affinity for tannic wines and often the less tannic wines would be associated for the ladies. You can classify the wines you’re tasting as soft, medium or astringent.
And finally, S. S is for sweetness. As soon as you put the wine into your mouth, you can usually notice sweetness or the lack of it. In wine language, dry is the opposite of sweet. We would normally describe the wine we are tasting in reference to sweetness as dry, medium or sweet.
So the next time, you are tasting wines, just remember BATS and you won’t go wrong.
Trina, founder, Wine Tasting Malaysia, an online based wine enthusiasts group with weekly wine tasting events all around Klang Valley. Often found with a wine glass in her hand, she truly believe life is so much more WINEderful with wines. She is currently on a quest to gather 1000 wine enthusiasts in Malaysia. Be part of her quest by joining Wine Tasting Malaysia via Meetup or Facebook’s winetastingmalaysia. She calls Subang Jaya her home and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org