They say wine is one of the best things in life and I’d have to agree. Not only is it delicious on its own but it pairs well with so many foods really allowing both the wine and foods flavours to truly shine.
With most wines, we end up developing favourites that become everyday quaffers. What I hope to share today is a guide to taking a moment to stop and take in so much more about your wine to really allow you to appreciate it.
Since our wine of the month is Ambriel’s Gift and we have been plunged into the cold depths of winter (well a vast proportion of the country has) It’s the perfect time to stop and savour all that is rich and warming about this elegant Coonawarra Cabernet.
Tasting Wine the Koonara way
All too often we pop things in our mouth because we know we like the taste of it. How often do we really stop to appreciate what it is we are tasting? Simply by taking a mere moment to use our five senses, we can appreciate it even more. Tip for beginners–what I’m about to share with you is essentially what the pros sommeliers do but they take notes and take a bit more time as well.
When it comes to using our five senses with regards to enjoying wine, we focus primarily on Sight, Smell and Taste. The key to truly a memorable experience when indulging and enjoying wine is to try to involve the other senses too. So ensuring perhaps you have some background music playing to add to the moment. I have a few playlists that I made specifically for drinking red wine that will add a great atmosphere to any occasion. You can find them here Or simply follow Koonara on Spotify. I have so many playlists for every occasion.
Is it time for the wine yet?
When it comes to the next part, the actual wine tasting there are four basic steps that one should follow to ensure mindfulness and appreciation.
Look / Appearance
This is essentially doing exactly that – look at your wine, what do you observe? Take 5 seconds to take in the colour, clarity, viscosity. You will probably have ideas about what to expect just from Looking at the label too.
Swirl the wine around and hover your nose over the glass and take a whiff. Describing the smells is completely subjective, given there are potentially thousands of aroma components in the glass just take a moment to pick a few that stand out for you. Think broadly about fruits, and then narrow it down to the type of fruit, eg blackberries, raspberries, blueberries.
This is the part where you pop it in your mouth finally–Hooray! It’s at this point you should really stop and engage with your senses to ensure you appreciate all the flavours.
You might straight away taste flavours you identified in the previous step, these might be blindingly obvious to you, or they may not and that’s ok.
Our tongue is a great helper in detecting things like salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Sweet (from residual sugar) and sour (acidity) are common components of wine due to the nature of grapes being acidic. Saltiness is rarely encountered but can come with age in some wines. Bitterness usually is a feeling that stems from the tannins rather than actual bitter flavours in the wine.
While we are tasting, we think about the mouthfeel or texture. This comes about because of a combination of effects from the alcohol, the tannins and sugar in the wine. Ethanol (alcohol) gives the wine texture because we perceive it to be richer than waters. Tannins are what give wines a bitter taste, and can give you a sandpaper tongue feeling when drinking red wines. Thick-skinned wines like Cabernet have much higher tannin levels than thin skinned varieties.
The final part of the taste element is the finish. Think about how long the wine stayed with you. Now I don’t mean, we drank it over dinner so roughly an hour. This specifically refers to how long the flavours linger in your mouth after the wine has been swallowed.
This is where you bring everything you have just seen, smelt and tasted together to form your opinion. The first thing you should be doing is thinking about if you like the wine. What specifically did you like or dislike to make you come to that conclusion? Was there something that stood out for you?
Now you have stopped and smelt the roses (or wine in this instance) what can you further do to enhance your tasting pleasure? Cook a delicious meal that what. You have opened the bottle of wine. Now let’s see how the taste is heightened when it’s paired with food that enhances those flavours.
We paired up with Gavin from another food blogger fame who has created a recipe that truly is a match made in heaven when it comes to food pairings. You definitely need to try this Red wine and chocolate braised lamb shanks. Chocolate, lamb and red wine does sound a little weird but trust me when I say it is deeellliiccciiioouuusss. We are so glad Gav wanted to work with us here at Koonara.
This recipe again evokes a whole lot of our senses with so many flavours coming together during the preparation, and while you are cooking expect your kitchen to come alive with the tastiest smells. Once you plate this up, you are going to savour that glass of Ambriel’s Gift Cabernet and just enjoy how well this dish pairs.