Wine tasting can look intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be – even if you’re a newbie. We visited the stunning and casual Blue Elk Vineyard in scenic North East, Maryland, where owner Denise shared what you need to know if you're new to wine tasting either at a winery or in your own home.
HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY ARRANGE WINES IN A FLIGHT?
"We arrange the wines from sweetest to driest. That way, your palate doesn't start with the strongest wine, preventing it from being able to decipher the more gentle notes of the sweet wines at the beginning.”
DO YOU NEED TO CLEANSE YOUR PALATE BETWEEN TASTING DIFFERENT WINES?
“If you’re a more serious wine taster, you may want to do that. If you’re [tasting] to pick out all the notes and flavor in each wine, that would be suggested.”
IS IT STILL ADVISABLE TO LET WINE BREATHE AND TO SWIRL IT?
“Opening the wine always helps any wine develop its flavors. As soon as the alcohol in the wine hits the oxygenated air, it starts to evaporate and concentrates in the flavor of the wine, so it’s not always about the alcohol content. Swirling does the same thing – it allows more of the wine surface to come in contact with the oxygen, which burns off or evaporates the alcohol.”
HOW DO NOTES GET INTO THE WINE?
“It all depends on how long the grapes are left on the vine if they’re sweeter. How long you leave them in with the skins could make it more dry. [Wine] has no flavoring added. It's just the grape itself that has the notes."
DOES A CORK BREAKING INDICATE A BAD BOTTLE OF WINE?
“A cork could break if it’s an older wine and the cork has dried out. The best way to know if you should continue is to taste the wine. If you taste it and it’s unpleasant, you shouldn’t go any further. If you plan on storing a wine longer than a few days in your home, it’s always best to store the bottle on its side to keep the wine in contact with the cork.”