Wine Basic Basics: A primer on taste

Student:  Sensei, what is the secret of wine?  

Master:   Wooh, now grasshopper!  Before you can know the secret of wine you must develop your palate.  

Student:  But master, palate? What is this palate you speak of?  

Master:   It is the key to unlocking the secret wine.  

Student:  Well how do you develop this palate?

Master:  Grasshopper, one must taste, or savour wine.

Student: How do you learn how to taste wines?

Master:  By tasting wines.  

Student:  I am confused master.  

Master: I know, don´t worry it will all become clear soon.

Wine tasting is way more accessible than absorbing a mystic process from a sage master.  Not that this is a bad way to learn, hours and hours at the knee of a patient and learned wine expert is a great privilege, one I have yet to be lucky enough to have, but am open to.  Luckily for us inquisitive types, we just happen to be blessed with growing group of wine experts dedicated to cutting through the obtuse wine jargon and offering clear steps to help us unlock the mystery of wine.  

NKOTB-thumb

I like to think of these tastings steps like NKOTB´s  instructive love song, “Step By Step” which establishes a clear, methodical way to win a girls heart. This song should not to be confused with the also awesome “Every Little Step” which talks about the magical way in which two souls from different sides of the tracks are magically brought together by love. While each song stems from the same era and both are made possible by legendary Boston boy bands.

Bobby Brown gumby fade

Bobby Brown, were it not for the tremendous success of New Edition, would not be the Bobby Brown hearthrob of the late 80s and early 90s and NKOTB, I say no more.

Now back to the steps. There are four to steps on the road to tasting success.  Wine Folly´s Madeline Puckette lays them out brillantly here, These steps are true blue, they will not fail you, follow them and you will be on the path to wine nirvana, or at least, guaranteed to build your palate  step by step thus honing your taste skills.

Be not afraid grasshopper!

Wine Basic Basics/Basicos de Vino

Let the tasting begin

Taste

I am just gonna dive right in with a few words about the tasting experience.

Tasting wine is a lesson in discernment, it means learning to distinguish and interpret the sensations your body is experiencing, and interpret the feelings those sensations create.  Tasting is a physical and mental exercise, it is a lovely fusion of body, mind and finally spirit.

In English, our vocabulary is quite limited when it comes to describing the subtleties of various sensations as compared to Spanish, French or Italian and so we must learn to stretch our imagination to meet our experience.  English an impoverished language but with it´s limited sensual vocabulary we are free to create new metaphors.

Wine tasting is an art that develops over time, the more you invest in it the more profound your experience can become.  Experts such as enologists and sommeliers are people who have spent years, perhaps even a lifetime cultivating their taste of wine, learning the process, getting rigorous training.  Their expertise is essential in helping us navigate this vast world of wines but in the end everyone must learn to trust their own personal taste.  Just because an expert recommends it doesn’t means you should like it.  Rich, full bodied Burgundys aren’t to everyone’s liking, nor are dry white wines like Rueda.  Some like it dry to the bone, some like it sweet.  Reviews and label descriptions are guides, they aren’t the end all and be all of the wine.  The world of wine is so vast, I am certain there is a taste out there for you.  What could be more fun than taking time to taste and find out?

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Sabor

Voy a sumergirme, con tan sólo unos pocos conceptos, en la experiencia de degustar vino.

Catar un vino es una lección de discernimiento, se trata de aprender a distinguir e interpretar las sensaciones que experimenta tu cuerpo, y de descifrar los sentimientos que éstas generan. Es un ejercicio físico y mental, una atractiva fusión de cuerpo, mente y finalmente espíritu.

En inglés, cuando se trata de describir las sutilezas de las distintas sensaciones, el vocabulario es más limitado que en castellano, francés o italiano, y por eso debemos aprender a desarrollar nuestra imaginación para satisfacer nuestra experiencia. Un idioma menos rico, pero que con su limitada sensualidad podemos crear libremente nuevas metáforas.

La degustación de un vino es un arte que se desarrolla con el tiempo, cuanto más le dedicas más profunda puede llegar a ser tu experiencia. Los expertos, enólogos y sommeliers, son personas que han pasado muchos años, en algunos casos su vida entera, desarrollando su sentido del gusto, aprendiendo el proceso para realizar las catas y entrenando rigurosamente su paladar. Su experiencia es esencial para nosotros, ayudándonos a movernos por el vasto mundo de los vinos, aunque al final cada uno debe aprender a confiar en su propio criterio.

Sólo por el hecho de que un experto recomiende algo no significa que tenga que gustarte.

Burgundys, un vino rico y con cuerpo, no es del gusto de todo el mundo como tampoco lo son los blancos secos de Rueda. Unos los prefieren muy secos y otros dulces. Los comentarios y las etiquetas de las botellas son sólo guías, no son la biblia del mundo vinícola, el cual es tan amplio que estoy segura de que hay un sabor en él para ti. ¿Qué puede ser más divertido que dedicarle tiempo a probar y descubrirlo?