How to do a wine tasting at home

Daniele Cantalici holding a bottle of red wineSuggestions on leading a wine tasting at home: advice by an expert

Wine tastings are usually led by sommeliers. The origin of the word “sommelier” is French: SOMME ( pack animal) + LIER (to tie). In the past barrels were tied on pack animals to carry wine. People who carried wine started to be interested in the matter and became experts. They used to be called “sommelier”.

Usually, we host our visitors in our cellar in Gaiole in Chianti, but today we'll try to give you some easy pieces of advice to have a successful wine tasting in your own home, by guiding you through a conscious and healthy approach to drinking.

Wine makes people get together and creates social and convivial moments, or even an intimate moment to enjoy, to take a bit of time only for ourselves and to focus on something different from usual. The passion for knowing more about wine is growing during the time and the audience is becoming bigger and bigger, including men and women.

Which is the right order to clearly perceive the differences between wines in a home wine tasting?

The first suggestion is about the choice of wines: if you wish to taste more wines, try to pair them according to the taste, and always start from the more delicate wine to the more full-bodied. In this way, your palate will be able to “recognize” the differences among different tastes, and it will accustom gradually.
Therefore, for instance: always start with white wines, and then proceed with rosé, then with young red wines, and finally, with reserve red wines.

How many wines should one taste, more suitable glasses, and serving temperature

Our advice is to taste no more than 3 or 4 wines, to avoid perfumes get mixed up.

Usually, after having tasted a wine, one spits it out and does not drink it. But, considering you are already at home and you have not to drive, you may just drink your wines... it would be a pity to waste them!

After having chosen the wines you will taste, we can skip to the choice of the right glass for serving them.
The right glass is very important to taste wine. Plastic glasses and usual water glasses are absolutely inadequate: you need a large stem glass so that wine will oxygenate and its aromas and flavors will bring able to fully express.

Then, let's talk about service temperature, another important detail for a nice at-home wine tasting.
Remember: for white and rosé wines the temperature must be low, but not too low. For instance, to bring white wine to the temperature of 2°C means eliminating any olfactory and gustatory scents (in fact a bad wine becomes acceptable if it’s very cold!)
 

Here below we give you some more accurate indications about service temperatures, according to wine type:

Young white wines: between 8°C and 10°C
Structured white wines (with aging in wood): 10- 12°C
Rosé wines: 12-14°C, this way you keep the freshness and also marked flavors
Young red wines: 14-16°C to enhance the floral and fruity notes
Red wines: with a medium structure 16-18°C; very structured 18-20°C

All these temperatures are indicative and changeable on the base of wine.

Tasting wines using 3 senses

Michela, Cantalici sommelier, leading a wine tasting of Chianti Classico Baruffo Gran SelezioneNow we use your senses: three, in particular, are linked with wine tasting and this is only a little overview…

First of all, sight

Let’s observe our wine trying to understand its color tonality
It’s easier if we hold our glass over a white tablecloth. For structured wines if we hold the glass in the backlight, we can see “archettes” on the surface of the glass: their presence and persistence are connected to the alcoholic content.

Smell

Smelling the wine will help us retrieve some information about the geographical area, terroir, and the kind of wood used for aging in barrels.

Taste

After smelling the wine, eventually, we can taste it. It could be fresh, sour, a little bitter, astringent, dry, mellow, full-bodied, smooth, and have more or less persistence in the mouth. You’ll be able to taste floral or fruity or woody notes.
 

A final suggestion: note your impressions down on a piece of paper, and then share them with your friends, to confront your perceptions with others.

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