Basic Skills for Blind Wine Tasting

Blind tasting can be incredibly difficult, unless you have SOMM Blinders, this blind wine tasting card game we came up with, allowing anyone to blind taste wine from the comfort of home, with friends and family. However! We have some tricks to help you if you’re studying for your WSET exams, or studying to be a sommelier, or if you just really want to win your next hand.

In SOMM TV’s Episode 2 of Study Hall, Master Sommelier, Jill Zimorski, walks us through some of her tips for blind wine tasting.

Color of Red Wine

The color of red wine actually comes from the skin, with the grape juice itself being white. Allowing the juice to macerate and come into contact with the skins is what will produce the final color, and this color can also be determined by how old the wine is once it’s been bottled. The colors can range from true red, to garnet, to purple, which hints at the grape and the age.

In order to determine the color, pour a small amount of wine in your glass and tilt it over a white background, so that you can see the full hue and how translucent the color is. Thin-skinned grapes are going to be more translucent and lighter in color, such as Pinot Noirs, and thicker-skinned grapes are going to produce wines that are fuller, and not translucent at all in some cases.

“Legs” or “Tears” in Wine

“Legs” or “tears” in a wine glass are not a representation of how good a wine is. If you haven’t heard the term before, they are the dribbles of wine that coat the glass after you’ve swirled it around. If the coating of wine drips down really slowly, it’s possibly got a high level of alcohol, or lots of sugar. If it runs down quickly, then the opposite may be true. It’s not a guarantee, but it can be a little indicator of these factors, prior to even tasting the wine. 

Determining the Aroma of a Wine

Jill then goes on to open some white wines and explains how to determine the intensity of the aromas. Aromas are often described as low, medium or high intensity, and the quick tip for determining this quickly is to hold the glass at various heights and judge the smell. If you can smell the wine with the glass at chest height, it’s got a high intensity aroma, if you can’t smell the wine until chin height, it’s got a medium intensity aroma and if you have to lift the glass up to your nose to smell the wine properly, it’s got a low intensity aroma. 

Watch the short clip below to hear Jill’s explanation, or go to SOMM TV to watch the full episode.

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