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A Guide to French Wine

The beginner's guide to wine tasting

How to taste wine like a pro

Wine tasting can be a great experience and a lot of fun, especially if you do it with friends or family. You get to experience wines that you may not have heard of before. But a lot of people don't know how it do it. Many just assume wine tasting is just sipping, swishing, and swallowing - but you'll be amazed to find that there's actually a bit more to it. French wine tasting guideWine tasting is more of an art that is used to distinguish the taste of fine wines.

The following guide will clear up all the mysteries so you'll be wine tasting like the pros in no time. Let's begin!

Storage and Serving Temperature

Let's look at the correct temperature to store your wines at. if you can manage it, a wine fridge or well-insulated basement or cellar may suffice if you can hold the temperature all year round at around 13 degrees. This of course is often difficult in some parts of Australia. What you don't want to do is store your bottles at room temperature. At the very least they will prematurely age or cook in the bottle, thus destroying their aromas and flavours.

Serving temperatures are roughly as follows and depend on their grape variety and their regions.

For example a rich intense Bordeaux could be served at 18 degrees while a soft Beaujolis is best served at 12 degrees.
17 to 18 degrees for Bordeaux, Shiraz, Rhone wines, Cabernet and Burgundy.
14 to 16 degrees for Rioja, Pinot Noir, Chinon.
11 to 12 degrees for Beaujolais.
9 to 10 degrees fot all whites.
6 to 8 degrees for Champagne and Sparkling White.


Now to the fun part!

Nibbles are a great idea

It's always a good idea to have goodies on hand like cheese and crackers, to help you cleanse your mouth between wine tastings.

How to hold the glass

When you take the wine, you should always handle the glass by the stem, to avoid heating it with your hands.

Check the colour

First, look at the wine. You can tell quite a bit about the wine by the colour. A young white wine that's one to three years old will generally be a pale straw colour. As white wine ages, the yellow colour will deepen, eventually becoming a golden yellow or green and then brown. Red wine generally starts out a dark crimson colour with a purple tinge. As the red wine ages it will become more of a reddy brown and eventually a brown colour. Thats why it's important to ensure you have clean, clear wine glasses (no frosted glass). This helps you to examine the wine better.

There should also be white tablecloth on the table as well, to help you see the colour of the wine more clearly. It's interesting to note that while red wine gets better with age, white wines get more stale with age.

Why do wine tasters swirl the wine in their glass?

Next, you'll need to swirl the wine. You'll notice more experienced wine tastes swirl their wine around in the glass before they taste it. Although it may look weird, slightly swirling the wine actually helps to bring out the flavour and aroma. Most wines have been ageing in bottles for long periods of time, sometimes even years. When the wine is swirled around in the glass, the swirling will release the flavours in the wine and bring them out when the wine is tasted.

You can always sniff out a good wine

Next comes sniffing. When wine tasting, you'll need to look at the wine, swirl it around in the glass, and smell it. Smells play an integral part of the process, and you'll get a lot more from the wine by smelling it first. You should start with a brief smell to get a general idea of the wine, then take a deep, long smell. This deeper smell should allow you take in the flavour of the wine. The more experienced wine tasters prefer to sit back a bit and think about the smell before they actually taste the wine. So once you have smelled the wine, you might like to allow a few moments to take it in. Try closing your eyes to intensify the aroma.

You'll be amazing to learn your sense of smell has a major impact on the taste of the wine. In fact, over 75% of our taste is due to our sense of smell. When we have a cold, our sense of smell is affected. Therefore, when eating or tasting wine with a cold, the taste will appear different. Wine tasters all over the world will tell you that tasting wine is more about a sense of smell than the actual taste buds.

Get a taste for wine

Last but not least, is to taste the wine. To properly taste the wine, you should first take a sip, swish it around in your mouth, and then swallow. Your tongue has taste buds in the front and the back, which helps to detect flavours. That's why it's always important to swish the wine around in your mouth for a few seconds. It allows the flavours plenty of time to dance on your palate. Once your taste buds have started to discover the wine, you can think about what you are tasting, and then swallow the wine. The aftertaste that remains in your mouth should give you even more of an idea as to the type and flavour of the wine.

Now its time to evaluate the wine!

Once you have looked at the wine, smelled it, and finally tasted it, you'll be able to evaluate the wine. This is the easiest way to determine the quality of the wine, and whether or not it has been properly stored and aged. As with all things in life - the more you taste wine - the better you will get at distinguishing the unique flavours.

Do some research

Try and learn as much as you can about the many different flavours and varieties of wine. This way, you'll have a better understanding of what you should look for in both taste and flavour. You'll also learn how different grape varieties, soils and different climates effect the taste of the wine.

Now why not organise a wine tasting party!

Now you know the basically of wine tasting, why not invite some friends around to taste test a selection of French and Australian wines. It's interesting and fun to taste the differences between the wines from two different parts of the world. And you can all discuss which qualities you can taste in the wines. You can even do it in a fun French accent!

the french cellarwine guide

All you need to get started is:
  • Clear wine glasses
  • White table cloth or a white surface to see the wine
  • Some nibbles
  • A copy of this guide to help those who are unfamiliar with wine tasting
  • A selection of wines - as many as you like, but the more variety you have the more interesting it is
  • Some music to get everyone into the mood
  • You might also like to theme the room in a French style, play French music, serve French-inspired foods and get guests to dress-up in French fashion

 

Enjoy!

We hope this guide has helped you better enjoy the wonderful art of wine tasting. The most important things to remember is to have fun and enjoy the experience. Bottoms up!

The French Cellar sources the bulk of their wines directly from over twenty state of the art wineries throughout France. They are controlled by the most fastidious experts to ensure only the best of the best are traded by their businesses. The French Cellar then from their vast selection chooses the wines that will best match the expectations of the Australian taste while ensuring the French difference is delightfully evident in all instances.

WARNING: Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 it is an offence: To supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years Penalty exceeds $6,000). For a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (Penalty exceeds $500)