A Beginner’s Guide to Winetasting By: A Beginner

Lucy McNamara
October 12, 2015
Last week, Charlie and I flew to Mendoza to (literally) get a taste of Argentine wine country. On Thursday we toured three vineyards at the base of the Andes using a company called “Ampora Wine Tours”—in total we were 8: our lovely guide named Sabrina, a group of 5 Americans, and Charlie and me. The three vineyards we visited were in the Uco Valley, about an hour-long car ride south of Mendoza City but higher in altitude, rising up to 1,400 meters. Sabrina taught us 4 main steps to wine tasting that I will now impart upon you: 1.) Observe the color: This should be done against a white surface like a tablecloth or napkin (we were given paper placemats with labels below each glass). For white wines, people throw out words like “golden,” “straw,” “sand,” or “sunshine.” Generally, the paler the color of the white wine, the younger it is. For red wines, common words that can be used include “ruby,” “purple,” or “deep.” Contrary to whites, the deeper a red the younger the wine is, whereas reds with tints of orange have aged longer. 2.) Smell the wine: Notice its initial aromas just from sitting in the glass. Does it smell fruity? Oaky? Bitter? 3.) Swivel the wine around in the glass: One purpose of this is to eliminate false odors that may have been lingering from the initial pour. Swirling the wine around the glass mixes it up and exposes more of it to oxygen. Exposing your wine to oxygen is the same thing as introducing it to fresh air—it has the equivalent effect of airing out your bedroom and allowing it to “breathe.” The other purpose of this technique is to observe the “legs” (in Spanish they say "lágrimas," or “tears”) of the wine, helping you to understand the consistency, texture, and alcohol content of what you’re about to sip. 4.) Taste! Some connoisseurs swish the wine around in their mouths whereas the truly confident go as far as to gargle it. I found it effective to rub my tongue against my cheeks on both sides so that the wine could hit the various nooks and crannies. It’s important to notice where the flavor lingers after you swallow the wine. Does it dry the back pockets of your mouth? Does it burn your throat? Is your tongue left feeling velvety? In terms of flavors, there are endless words used to describe the tastes you may be reminded of as you sip the wine. Is the Chardonnay buttery? Is the Malbec leathery? All in all, I loved the entire experience. They poured us wine straight from the wooden barrels and instructed us to clean our palate with specific cheeses and dried fruits after each sip. In between vineyards, we bussed passed orchards and snow-capped mountains and Sabrina shared her mate with the group. Finally, it was so fun for Charlie and me to get to know the other members of our group, with whom we got friendlier after each tour. For photos of Mendoza, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/132576727@N03/albums .

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Lucy McNamara

<div>My name is Lucy McNamara and I am twenty years old. I am from Bolton, Massachusetts but am currently studying&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">history as a junior at the University of Virginia. I am the tenth out of twelve children in my family, thus I am an&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">experienced arguer and am considering law school! I love to read, write, cook, and take photographs, and I could not be&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">more excited to share all my new experiences in Buenos Aires with you.</span></div>

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