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Archive for the ‘Wine Tasting’ Category

Did you know you have more control over how much you enjoy a nice bottle of wine apart from just choosing a good label? From storing to pouring, you can influence how your wine tastes. Follow these tips on how to enhance the flavour of your wine.

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Temperature

Temperature plays a vital role in the enjoyment of wine, from the moment the vines are planted all the way to the storage of the wine in your home and of course, the drinking of it. If a wine is stored incorrectly in high temperatures it will age and spoil before you’ve even opened it.

If you serve a red wine that is too warm the flavours will be masked by the alcohol. If you serve a white wine that is too cold, you also won’t be able to taste it properly as the flavours will be muted by the cold. If you have a cheap bottle of white that doesn’t taste very good, make it as cold as possible before serving!  For a white wine that you actually want to taste, enhance your drinking experience by leaving the bottle out of the fridge for a short while before serving and conversely, with a red, maybe put it in the fridge for a short time before serving – especially if it’s a warm day!

Decanting

So many wines are being made to enjoy ‘young’ these days, and so consumers often think there isn’t much need to decant it first. However, all wines will benefit from decanting, even the young ones. Decanting allows more oxygen into the wine from the design of the decanter. Also, the splashing motion when the wine goes from the bottle to the decanter will help to aerate it.

Of course, once the wine is exposed to air it will begin the oxidation process, which over a period of time will make your lovely wine turn foul. But if you plan to drink the wine soon after decanting you will not have to worry about this too much.

All older red wines should be decanted as a rule. This is because an older wine can throw off sediment as they age. When you decant the wine, don’t tip the entire bottle up, letting the sediment go into the decanter. Pour carefully at an angle so the sediment stays in the bottle but the wine is released. Aged wines may sometimes have a musty character, but this will go away with decanting.

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 Pairing food and wine

What is better than enjoying food or wine? Enjoying them together when you get the mix just right. When you match food and wine in the right way, it can enhance the flavour not only of the wine but of the food as well. To find the perfect match, you can keep a chart like this handy in your kitchen. Or you could just remember these two simple rules: white wine matches with light foods such as white meat, salads and fish. Red wine goes well with red meat or a rich casserole. Sparkling wine however, can go with just about anything as it acts as a palate cleanser.

If want to delve deeper, you can look at what makes up a wine and pair that to food. For example, if you have an acidic wine it will go well with fatty or sweet foods. A wine high in tannins will also go well with sweet food.

If in doubt remember one very important rule: this is not a contest between food and wine. One should not overpower the other, so if you are going for a light salad, don’t pair it with a bold red. And if you are going for a heavy, spiced steak don’t pair it with a sauvignon blanc. That is because one flavour will be the clear winner while you don’t taste much of the other one at all – and what is the sense in that? So the next time you are choosing a dish that is heavy or full of flavour, do the same with your wine. And same again for food and wines that have a more delicate taste.

Using the right glasses

Another way to enhance your wine tasting experience is to use the correct glass ware. The flavour of wine can actually be improved by using different drink ware for each type of wine. White wine glasses are smaller and narrower, while red wine glasses are larger with a wide opening. It is possible to get different shaped glassware for all varietals if you don’t have the storage room for that, just red and white glasses are fine.

Red wine glasses are wide at the top to allow more air in the glass, which in turn releases the wines aromas and influences the taste. White wine glasses are more narrow at the top, which leads the wine to go to the centre of your tongue when sipping it. By doing this, the wine mostly bypasses the sensors on the sides of the tongue, which in turn reduces the acidic flavours.

At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.

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It is quite normal for the majority of people to serve their wine without really thinking about the temperature of it. The red is served straight from the shelf or storage area at room temperature, and the white is served completely cold straight from the fridge. However, just as you wouldn’t enjoy a lukewarm cup of tea compared to a hot one, it is a lot more enjoyable to drink wine at the optimum temperature.

While it is true that red wine should be served at a warmer temperature than white wine, there isn’t really any truth to the notion of serving it at ‘room temperature’. And although white wine is delicious when it is chilled, it shouldn’t be consumed too cold.

Why does temperature matter?

The serving temperature can literally change the scent and the taste of a wine. It can enhance the flavour or it can make it unpleasant. That is why serving temperature is so important.

Wine has many different layers of aroma and taste. As wine changes temperature, it will slowly release the different layers and when you reach the optimum drinking temperature, you will experience all of the notes in a wine, even the really delicate ones. However, if you serve a red wine that is too warm you will likely be overwhelmed by a strong taste of alcohol. And if you drink a white wine when it is too cold, it will be quite tart.

The colder the wine, the more the acids and tannins are accentuated. Tannins are good but not when they are too dominant and throw the wine out of balance.

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A glass of wine that is too cold will also lose most of its aroma. The wine becomes flat and dull, and doesn’t really smell of anything much. If you are unsure how to serve it, aim to be on the cold side. Sniff the wine and if you can’t really smell anything then give it a while to warm up and try again. Once you can detect the different aromas in the glass it is ready to drink.

Red wine that is really warm is not pleasant to taste. Even worse, if it is exposed to too much heat and for too long it will actually damage the wine completely. Be careful that any wine is not stored near sources of heat such as fridges, stoves or areas of direct sunlight or there will be no saving the wine.

The Optimum Drinking Temperature

Every wine has an optimum drinking temperature. That is the temperature that a wine will taste at its absolute best. Super cold for white and overly warm for red means the wine will not be reaching its full potential.

The myth behind room temperature for red wine came from Europe where, centuries ago, the wine was served in large, stone dining halls. It was long before electrical heating was invented, so the red wine was never exposed to high temperatures. In fact, it was often served around the 15 to 18-degree mark, which is perfect for red wine.

These days, with a warmer climate in Australia plus indoor heating, room temperatures can get as high as 25 degrees on average, and sometimes even higher. Because of this, the taste of red wine can become compromised. In Australia, it is recommended that you cool your bottle of red wine down to a similar temperature that they enjoyed in the medieval times.

A bottle of white wine should not be stored in the fridge long-term or it will get too cold. Instead, only place the wine in the fridge a couple of hours before you intend to open it. The bottle will be cold to the touch when it is ready. If you have kept it in there for longer, take the bottle out at least half an hour before serving so that it has a chance to warm up slightly.

Getting the drinking temperature just right

For red wine, put the bottle in the fridge for 15-45 minutes before serving. For white wine, put it in for a couple of hours. The red wine bottle should feel cool to the touch and the white wine bottle should feel cold.

If you are unsure and would like to work out the exact right drinking temperature for your favourite wine, why not try experimenting with it? Put the bottle in the fridge for an hour and then take it out. Pour yourself a small glass and taste it. Continue to pour a small glass every 15 minutes or half hour and taste it. Take notice of the difference in aroma as well as taste as the wine begins to slowly warm up. Once you have found the temperature at which the wine tastes the best, take note so you can enjoy it this way every time.

If you’ve been served a glass of wine at a restaurant that is too warm, don’t be afraid to ask for a cube of ice or two. Pop it into the glass for just a minute. This will be long enough to cool the liquid without watering it down, and will taste much better than a glass of wine that is too warm.

At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.

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Pouring yourself a glass of wine, and taking that first sip can be one of life’s great pleasures. There are a couple of factors at play here in creating that amazing experience. There is, of course, the taste of the wine. But helping create that overall enjoyable experience is also the aroma of the wine.

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What does wine and a wet dog have in common?

Have you ever heard someone say ‘tastes like a wet dog’? We are willing to bet they have never actually tasted a wet dog, yet this term is used to describe tastes. Why? Because it is said that 85% of your taste is actually derived from your sense of smell. So if you smell something as strong and obvious as a wet dog, you can almost taste it in your mouth. And you can certainly recognise it when something does taste as bad as a wet dog.

The same applies when you have a head cold – your nose is blocked up and you notice that you can’t really taste your food properly anymore.

So although the smell of wine is enjoyable, it is also pertinent to the taste of wine.

When you are wine tasting, if you keep an open mind to the possibilities of what the aroma could bring, you will be amazed at the new world that is opened up to you. Aromas from fruit and plants, through to coffee or spices will present themselves and often there will be a mixture of several scents to take in.

When it comes time to taste a wine, really take the time to work out what aromas and flavours are in each sip. Before trying it, swirl the glass so oxygen will go into the wine, and this will allow the aromas to be released. After a moment, take a sniff from the glass. It is best to leave your mouth open slightly, and to take several short sniffs, but you do whatever works best for you.

If you do several short sniffs, you’ll unlock more of the aromatics in the wine and be able to discern the different layers. Remember, be open minded about what you may be picking up. If you are new to wine tasting it can be a good idea to take a copy of the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel to understand what you might be smelling.

When it comes to aroma, you will see many descriptive terms for what you may taste and smell in the glass of wine. It might be fruits, such as blueberries or cherries, or floral such as roses or geranium, or they might fall into other food categories with flavours like coffee or chocolate, vanilla or pepper.

There are three levels of aroma: Primary (usually what is experienced in a young bottle of wine and the smells are mainly related to fruit), secondary (this relates to the smells that have come about because of the winemaking process)and tertiary (these are related to the smells that appear over time as the wine ages). The secondary and tertiary qualities often come out more in a mature wine as the more primary fruit aromas drop away. These ones are layers that offer more depth and complexity.

 What can influence the aroma?

There are quite a few factors that go into the aroma of wine. It starts with the soil that the vines were planted in and the type of grapes being grown. It ends with how the wine maker chooses to create the wine.IMG_7837

The type of grape used is the determining factor on the kind of wine produced, so therefore has a huge influence on the taste and the smell of a wine. But the same type of grape can produce two very different tasting wines when other factors come into play. For example, a sauvignon blanc that is made in a cool climate region will taste and smell different to one from a warm climate wine region.

Wine produced in warm climate regions will be bigger, bolder, with higher alcohol and less acidity. This is because with more exposure to sun, the sugar content of the grapes increases faster. A cool climate wine will be subtler in taste and aroma, with lower alcohol and higher in acidity.

Other environmental factors that have an impact on the aroma of wine is the soil, the location of the vineyard and whether it is on a sloping or flat block.

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The influence of the winemaker

Two more influencing factors are the maker and the end user. The winemaker will make many decisions that will vary the end result of the wine, such as what yeast to use to ferment, what (if any) type of oak is used and also how long to mature the wine before selling it.

Once the wine reaches the consumer, they will then make decisions that will change the aroma further. Such as what temperature to serve the wine, how long to air it, what glass to pour it into and what food to serve it with.

The taste and the aroma of wine is a complex area thanks to the many elements that go into growing the grapes all the way through to the many different ways you can enjoy a drop at the end.

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Although we can sometimes become a little obsessed with creating our premium wines, here at Taylors we’re also very passionate about giving back to the community and being involved in key Australian events. One of those events is the Australian Open. This prestigious golfing event brings together the cream of the crop in international talent – and also helps to put the spotlight on Australian sport and tourism. Attracting elite sportspeople and fans alike, this esteemed gathering of international talent has a 110-year history, with the first competitors teeing off in 1904. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of this fantastic golfing occasion.

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Playing our part

Since 2007, Taylors Wines has been the official wine sponsor of the Australian Open. It certainly provides us with a sterling opportunity to be part of one of the world’s premier elite sporting competitions. First, we are able to provide golfers, officials and spectators with our exclusive premium wines throughout the event. Further, sponsorship helps us give back to a part of Australian culture that helps to define us: a love of the great outdoors and of sports in particular. Our contribution also forms part of the support given to the young up-and-comers in Australian golf.  We feel so lucky to be able to contribute our energy and our premium products to such an iconic Aussie event, which is a true gem on the national sporting calendar.

The St. Andrews link

It probably comes as no great surprise that the St. Andrews range is a key feature of our offerings at the Open. What synchronicity! We think back to the two Scottish gents who first developed our land here in the Clare in the 19th century. As a nod to this heritage, our St. Andrews range echoes these beginnings in our wine collection. And considering that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews Scotland has hosted this noble sport since 1754, it’s easy to see that Taylors Wines and the Australian Open Golf Championship were always going to have a special connection. Prestige golf and premium Taylors Wines – a perfectly natural match!

Australian golfing heritage

In 2014, competitors in the Australian Open will have the opportunity to play at the picturesque Australian Golf Club in Sydney – Australia’s oldest golf club (although the Royal Melbourne has had a few choice words to say about that over the years!). Australian golfers and international guests will enjoy playing on the beautiful course at Rosebery, which is a mere six kilometres from the Sydney CBD. But when swinging the clubs out on that lush, rolling course, well – the city could be a million miles away. With the cooling breezes that typify Sydney’s eastern suburbs plus the outstanding heritage venue, the Australian Golf Club will form the perfect backdrop for a hard-fought Open Golf Championship.

The pleasures of summer

We know that both throughout the competition and at day’s end, players and spectators alike will be looking for sustaining gourmet treats and refreshing beverages. And of course we’re well equipped to assist with the latter! Being held in late November this year, the Australian Open Golf Championship will certainly provide for thirsty work over the sunny Sydney grounds. For canapés and entrees, we’re looking forward to presenting some of our favourite premium whites to spectators throughout the rounds. Perfectly chilled, our trophy-winning St Andrews Riesling 2014 represents the type of crisp, citrus-flavoured refreshment that will undoubtedly provide the ideal foil for the summer heat.  Throughout the Australian Open Golf Championship, we will be doing everything that we can to make Australia proud, showcasing just what a family-run winery from the Clare Valley can bring to the table. With all that tense and nail-biting competition taking up most days of the Open, it’s the least we can do to provide a little refreshing relief.

Ah, memories…

On that final day of the Championship – which happens to also be St. Andrews Day and also marks the triumphant end to the official PGA tour – there can only be one golfer who gets the chance to hold the Stonehaven Cup high in victory. Yet it’s great to know that a thrilling and exciting time will be had by all, both on and off the course. As the spectators dissipate back to their everyday lives, memories will be carried home of outstanding golf, perfect weather and of course – the best examples of premium Australian wines.

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So you have a wine tasting looming on your social horizon. And you can picture it now – sparkling glasses on linen-covered tables, with people who seem to know a heck of a lot about what they’re doing. Odd swirling actions, strange sniffing, talk of bouquets, spitting – really, you could well ask what it’s all about!

But fear not, you’re certainly not alone! And by adopting a few basic strategies, not only will you blend in like a professional at your next cellar door tasting with friends, we think that you might also come to savour and appreciate different wines just that little bit more.

Keeping it simple

Taste Wine Like a ProfessionalSee…sniff …savour. These three little words are the simplest thumbnail sketch available on how to judge wine. Now, right away some pro wine tasters are pointing out that each of these stages could easily be broken into three or four more sub-stages. And we agree. But because we’re covering the basics here for you, how about we keep it simple? At the end of the day, a wine tasting is basically your chance to assess multiple aspects of ‘see, smell and savour’, in order to form your own opinion on the wine’s overall quality. Don’t let it be a stressful chore, because there are no definite right or wrong answers in wine tasting. For wasn’t 19thcentury artist Gellett Burgess right when he said: “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like?” The same might be said of wine too. Of course, when it comes to wine tasting, practice also makes perfect! Here’s a breakdown of the three stages.

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So, a small amount of your first wine has been decanted into quality glassware, preferably tulip-shaped (it provides a better surface area). Visually taking in your wine can give you valuable initial hints as to potential varietal features and likely age. In general, whites will display their youth with paler hues, moving to denser yellows with age. Conversely, young reds can first appear in rich maroons and dark purples, while brick red and light ochres tend to signify a more advanced vintage. Take in the clarity or opacity, and examine for any problematic inclusions, such as cork or sediment. Give the wine a bit of a swirl to double check for these, plus to watch how it sits in the glass. If there are thick rivulets (known as legs) hanging down the glass, this shows a certain viscosity or thickness. Substantial legs can indicate high alcohol content and/or sweetness.

A thoughtful sniff

Perhaps the part of wine tasting that causes the most eye rolling among amateurs is the time spent by pro wine tasters smelling the beverage. Well, there are actually a few great reasons why aroma testing is crucial. Back to biology class… did you know the human sense of smell is 1,000 times more acute than taste?

And when we think of the mouth and olfactory connection in humans, these two senses often helpfully intermingle and send joint messages to the brain. Suffice to say – the nose is a champion tool in the assessment of any wine.

First, give the glass another gentle swirl to add a little oxygen and to release more aromatic molecules. Take a cursory first sniff and note your initial reaction. Now place your nose gently into the top of the glass and inhale more deeply, sensing how the aroma descends down to your mouth. This should begin to give you a greater appreciation of the aromatic characteristics that will potentially arise from this wine: hints of varietal make-up, vinification methods, structure and regional character can begin to take form. You might also detect aspects of acidity, sweetness and tannins at this olfactory stage. The mouth is now also becoming nicely prepared for the next step – taste.

And so to savour

Slowly take a mouthful and let it flow gradually across your tongue and throughout your mouth. This allows you assess the structure and texture of the wine, as well as to confirm or challenge earlier olfactory clues your nose picked up. In drinking and savouring, you can now let yourself experience the wine’s taste and overall mouth feel, again looking for indications of the wine’s grape variety, place of origin and age.

Older or oaked wines might present a more creamy or dense structure, while younger wines tend to be lighter or crisper. But it’s not just about feel. Your mouth and nose are working in unison to continually understand the wine’s nuanced flavours. Speaking very generally, flavours of fruit, nuts, plants, wood, baked items, minerals and spices could all arise throughout this phase. And these are just a few examples! In all, a careful examination of the balance of acidity, tannins, sweetness, heat and flavour in accord with the particular variety in question will be helpful in any taste assessment.

And then the last part of tasting is to have a think about how the wine finishes up. Is there a pleasant or unpleasant aftertaste? Does the aroma linger into a delicious finale, or do you have metallic barbs assaulting your palate?

Overall experience

So now someone turns to you and asks: “well, how was that – a good wine?” They’re pretty much alluding to your overall tasting experience, not just the technical aspects of it. Have a quick think about what you sensed in the broad see, sniff and savour categories. The cloudy Shiraz with light sediment (see) might be saved by delicious spiced mulberry aromas (sniff), and well-balanced tannins (savour) for example. Or the crisp pastel lemon Chablis (see) might be cleverly followed by faint lemongrass aromatics (sniff), tidied by a deliciously light mouth feel and nectarine notes (savour).

And so on. Your overall gut feel about this wine is important, and should inform your judgement. Use these basic categories to refine the way your express your opinion.

Follow the pros

So how do wine judges work out how to score a particular wine? Well, there are a number of wine scoring systems around the world, using total scores of anywhere between five and 100 marks. Generally, the largest portion of the scoring will go to what we’ve called the savour aspect, with remaining marks spread between the other individual elements. There is also an overall mark.

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While it’s useful to be aware of how the professionals do it, don’t get too hung up on trying to be exact. If you give each wine the respect it deserves by providing a little thoughtful attention to each part of the tasting experience, you’ll be surprised at the way your whole approach to wine is enhanced. In so many ways, wine will start to ‘make sense’ more than before.

A tasting can also be great to get inside the head of your winemaker a little. Back to those earlier thoughts on art, research shows that a gallery-goer’s experience is enhanced if they know just a little about the artist’s life, times and techniques. We
think the same just might apply to winemaking. In understanding a little of our art, you might just find that there’s a pretty complex world going on in each bottle. Know some more about what we were thinking when we made the wine, plus where we made it – and your wine just might take on a new dimension.

Remember to be yourself

This is one of the most important things to remember at a tasting. If other tasters notice viscous legs on the glass and you don’t, just say it. If the word around the room is ‘grassy’ for this Chardonnay, but you get something else, then speak up. No two people are the same, and your nose’s perception might well have picked up the wine’s more subtle aromatics and associated terroir.

Finally, why not just have a little fun before that tasting looms? Perhaps run our Taylors Estate Merlot through its paces with a little wine assessment of your own? As always, we’d love to hear from you about this or any other tasting adventures that you might take, so drop us a line any time. Remember, there are no rights or wrongs – it’s about opening up new horizons and finding more to love!

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