Our cellar door manager Della shares her top three tasting tips.
At Spy Valley’s cellar door, we’re pretty proud of the varieties of wine we produce, and we welcome anyone and everyone to taste our range. We know that some people can find wine tastings intimidating. You won’t feel like that here. It’s simple, really. We love wine, you love wine, we’re going to get along.
Wine tasting is a sensory experience, and it’s all the more enjoyable when you know what to look for. How you taste is up to you, but, in celebration of our summer extended cellar door opening hours, here’s the three top things we look for in a wine, which may just help you to get even more enjoyment out of your visit.
You can tell so much about a wine from its appearance. Its depth of colour is the best clue you’ll get of its variety. A glass of red wine may appear undistinctive, but as soon as you’ve noticed a true-red or true-ruby colour, you can usually assume it’s a Pinot Noir, whereas a Malbec or Merlot will often have a magenta pink or purple rim.
This is where things can get a bit exciting. Hints of barnyard, anyone? Flavours of forest floor? Aroma of petroleum? We love those crazy atmosphere-invoking descriptors, but how do they come about? Usually, it’s through the aroma of the wine – in the industry, we call this ‘the nose’.
Start with the big concepts. Fruit? Herbs? Floral? Then you arrive at the aromas which are formed in the winemaking process, oak, butter or butterscotch, yeast-related aromas, vanilla.
Finally, the aging process develops the wine further, delivering savoury aromas such as roasted nuts, spices, vanilla or old tobacco, which vary depending whether it has matured in the bottle or in an oak cask.
You’ll taste the wine both as you swirl it around the tastebuds of your tongue, and after you’ve swallowed it. Our tongues can detect salty, sour, sweet and bitter, as well as the texture of the wine – is it smooth? Rich? Higher in alcohol? The taste of the wine also changes over time, with a beginning, middle and an end, often called the ‘finish’. In general, the better the quality of the wine, the longer the ‘finish’.
One last, important note. If you’re getting aromas of wet dog, nail polish remover or, worse yet, rotten eggs, odds are pretty high the wine is oxidised – otherwise known as ‘off’. It won’t hurt you to drink it, but we reckon life’s too short to drink bad wine.