If you’ve been exploring wine recently, or want to get started, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options out there. But armed with a little knowledge, you’ll find yourself able to spot a good red wine in no time.
Keep reading to learn all the steps of selection – from how to properly taste wine, to how to read a confusing label.
Table of Contents
Getting Started Wine Tasting
Learning to appreciate a good red wine is no different than starting to like a new band or enjoy a different style of cooking. Your depth of pleasure will be proportionate to the amount of effort you are willing to put into the selection.
As you begin to fine-tune your tastebuds, you will be able to understand the nuances of a variety of different wines and come to appreciate what makes each unique. Investing time and money in developing your palate is a great way to grow and explore new cultures and flavors.
How to Taste
When you taste a glass of good red wine, you should be able to untangle the subtle threads of aromas that grace your nostrils. But learning how to detect these notes takes a good amount of knowledge about wine tasting.
To begin developing your palate, you should start by holding your nose while you sip a glass of wine. You will find that the flavor is muted without the scent to accompany it. Your nose will be key to developing your palate.
A good method for tasting is to swish your wine around your glass to bring the flavors out with oxygen and then take a nice big whiff. You should be able to notice isolated flavors that are interacting to create the complex flavor of good red wine.
Wine enthusiasts and professionals are able to identify various notes within the wine and use them to distinguish what region the wine came from, what the weather was like when the grapes were growing, and even how long it has been aged.
Buying a good red wine can be like stepping back in time. When you uncork its contents, you experience all the conditions that the grapes had to go through to reach your glass.
Rules of Tasting
Although wine tasting is all about having a good time and finding something that you like, going about it in a methodical and focused way is the only option if you want to consistently choose good red wine.
You don’t have to over-analyze every glass of wine that you drink, but if you are passionate about discovering ones you like, it’s important to identify what specifically you like and don’t like about various wines.
When you have a new wine to taste in your glass, you should shut out all distractions from your mind and allow yourself to focus on the scents and flavors in your glass.
Consider the appearance of the wine and the way it tastes when it first meets your lips. Then let it sit in your mouth for a moment and consider the body of the wine – how it tastes and feels as it flows over your tongue.
The last thing to consider is the wine’s scent and finish. A good red wine makes a statement and fades away, a bad wine will leave behind flavor long after it’s been swallowed.
This whole checklist should take you about a minute or less but that small amount of effort will be vital in outlining what qualities you find the most appealing in your wine.
What Makes “Good Red Wine”?
When you talk to a wine professional and ask them to define a good red wine, they will tell you that the wine you like is the best there is. And if just enjoying wine is your goal, that is great advice.
But if you want to indulge your curiosities further than enjoying the sip, you should learn about the components of wine and the way it is made. You should be able to differentiate between different grapes and different regions with a little practice and concentration.
Identifying Wine Faults
There are some truly bad wines on the market, and they’re not all identified by a cheap price tag. Flaws in wine can come from a problem in the production process, bad corks, or improper storage conditions.
These flaws can occur even in the most reputable bottles of wine. That is why when you order a bottle at a fancy restaurant, the server typically will pour you a small taste of the wine for your approval before filling the glass.
This is so that you can make sure the wine tastes as it was intended to. If you taste a damp or musty scent then you may be the victim of a tainted cork. Armed with your tasting knowledge you will be able to send the bottle back without wondering if you just didn’t like it.
Discovering the Different Reds
There is so much more to differentiating wine than the simple comparison of red or white. There are a variety of different wine types that all have their own unique flavors and roles in the world.
Read on to learn about some of the most popular types of red wine and what makes each of them unique.
One of the most popular grapes, these are grown in cool, wet climates. They have been grown in wineries for centuries and have a traditional red wine flavor.
Produced from the Red Tannat grape, these wines are dry and are often used in good red wine blends. It often has an oaky flavor and can be planted in a wide variety of locations.
Merlot is very easy to drink red wine. It is a great introductory option for people new to wine. It is now grown in Italy, Romania, California, Washington, Chile, and Australia. You can expect flavors of black cherry, plum, and herbs.
Grown in California, Australia, and France, Syrahs have a wild black fruit flavor and often contain toffee notes as well as flavors of black pepper and roasting meat.
Often considered the most versatile grape, Zinfandel red wine is also very alcoholic. It goes well paired with Italian food like pasta and pizza because of its zesty flavor.
Reading the Label
Depending on when the wine was bottled, it will have different amounts of information on the label. Back in the day, wines used to be labeled by the region they came from and the type of grape grown there was considered common knowledge.
But today, with grapes grown all over the world, it has become more important to differentiate wines by their grape on the label. If you are trying to figure out what kind of wine an old-world bottle is, you can simply google the region to find out what grapes were growing there at the time.
Buying Good Red Wine
Today we have access to wines from all over the world. If they aren’t available in your local shop, then they can certainly be found online. It’s only a matter of how much effort you want to put in to find a great deal or a rare bottle.
Before you start placing massive orders, you should take advantage of tasting opportunities in your local community to learn about what you like. Try dining out with some open-minded friends or attending a tasting at your favorite mom-and-pop wine shop.
Evaluating a Sale
Wine goes on sale for one of two reasons, either its ideal window for drinking has passed or the store is just trying to get rid of inventory. That doesn’t mean that the sale of wine is bad, but it should certainly be considered carefully before you choose to stock up.
Wine Serving Tips
Now that you know a little about wine flavors, it’s time to try some wine. To start, you should make sure that your wine is served at the right temperature. Reds should be consumed at a temperature between 55 and 70 degrees. That is just slightly lower than room temperature.
To ensure your wine is served at a good temperature without a thermometer, you should set the temperature on your wine refrigerator to 40 degrees for red wines and take the bottle out about a half-hour before you plan to serve it.
Red wines taste best when they have had some time to “breathe”. This is because the wine has been sealed for a very long time and hasn’t been exposed to any oxygen. The oxygen allows the flavors in the wine to be released and the wine’s aroma to be revealed.
Try pouring your wine into a decanter right after you take it out of the fridge so that it can rest properly before its consumed.
And, of course, never let your guests over-indulge. To be sure, you can let them use a Rapid Detect breathalyzer before they leave your house.
More Life Tips
Learning to taste red wine properly is a worthwhile endeavor that can give you a lifetime of pleasure. If you are looking for more articles for improving your lifestyle, check out our blog today.