Helpful Wine Tasting Tips
By Chris Thomas, Dowie Doole chief winemaker
- Avoid wearing perfume or aftershave as it inhibits your sense of smell.
- Avoid eating strongly-flavoured foods beforehand.
- Enjoy a hearty meal before embarking on your wine tasting journey.
- Plan your journey. Pick out wineries that interest you and don’t be afraid to head off the beaten track to try lesser-known wineries. If you are travelling in a group, call ahead to advise the cellar door staff as to what time you will be arriving.
- Evaluate colour. Many people launch into smelling and tasting the wine, but a lot of clues can be gained from inspecting its colour. Hold the glass of wine against something white and use the light available to see the depth of colour. Generally the deeper the colour, the more full bodied the wine. Examine the hue for an indication of the wine’s age. For example, Shiraz with a purple hue often indicates a younger wine versus a brick-red hue, which indicates age.
- Swirl and sniff: swirl the wine in the glass to aerate it and bring out the aromas. Sniff gently to take in the fruit aromas and characteristics.
- Take a sip and hold the wine in your mouth to feel the sensation of it on your palate. Breathe through the wine to bring out more of the wine’s characteristics. Don’t be afraid to make noise when taking air in with the wine in your mouth (all the pros do it!)
- Wine tasting is a marathon, not a race. While it is tempting to drink all the samples, use the spittoons to make your palate last longer.
- Get chummy with cellar door staff; they have a wealth of knowledge to share about the wines and are a great resource for recommendations about other wineries to visit. They may even open some wines for you that aren’t on the tasting list.
- Be open to new wines. Try new varietals and blends. You may just find a new favourite.
- Wine tasting is a personal thing. Everyone has their own preferences, so drink what you like and enjoy it unapologetically. Don’t take it too seriously. And have fun!
Have you got any top tips for a McLaren Vale visit? Share them on social media using the hashtag #mclarenvaleguide