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How to Taste Wine III

With the twist of the wrist you can swirl wine with the best!

My first piece of advice:

Practice this at home first

In the beginning you will feel clumsy and pretentious. Don't worry. Being able to perform this one act well will mark you as a true wine lover.

Itís best to practice with water. Fill your glass to one-third full and keep the glass parallel to the ground, and use your wrist to make a subtle, circular motion. Hold the glass by the stem with your thumb and first two fingers. The secret is to keep the circular motion to a minimum whilst keeping the glass straight.

To start with it might be best to place the glass on a flat surface such as a table but with practice you will soon be able to swirl while standing. Make slow, gentle, small circular motions in one direction. The wine should move up and down the side of the glass in a wave. Don't be too rough, you're not trying for a cyclone effect. Being too rough will increase the likelihood of spilling wine over the top of the glass. If you are too timid your wave will be choppy. You only need to swirl the wine for five seconds. A younger wine may need more, a more mature wine less.

Why Bother?
The aim of swirling is to vaporize the wine and release aromas and flavors within the glass. The shape of the glass is important and should always have a curved top so it can trap the wine aromas. This is called "aerating." Aerating helps expose the aroma or bouquet of the wine.

Swirling also helps us with step one, observation. We observe how the wine adheres to the side of the glass. The thin threads that run down the inside of the glass are the "legs" or "tears." Do they fall quickly back into the wine? Are they thick and slow? If the coating is thick and slow the wine has a fuller body, and perhaps a higher alcohol content. It may tell us that this is a sweeter wine. Sugar adds viscosity to a wine. A thin and quickly falling coat is the mark of a light-bodied wine.

Take time and practice this fun wine tasting technique. Use different types of glasses to practice. Try different types of liquid before practicing with wine. Swirl water, iced tea, skim milk, lemonade and you will be surprised at the differences between the liquids. Then try with a white wine. After you are fully comfortable with swirling move on to a red. Then try it standing. Think of this as moving from a tricycle to a unicycle. You might feel foolish at first, but it will be fun and you will amaze your friends.

Next: Really smelling the wine. How to Taske Wine IV

Have you read the other two parts of this series?
How to Taste Wine
How to Taste Wine II

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