However, I would say that I would come under the strand of a “professional alcoholic”, which means that I am and must always be above the alcohol. This involves controlling myself, the amount drunk, my brain and the health of body – through exercise and balancing with non-alcoholic drinks. These constant tastings are incredibly important to me, and thus will become a big part of my articles, besides other important information about wine.
Usually I taste wine during my free time, at work or during a fair/convention. For me, the most significant tasting is actually at home where I taste a bottle of wine over 4 to 6 days. Sparkling wines between 1 to 3 days. So how do I do this?
On the first day I open the wine and let it breath for half an hour – or less if it is white, rose or sparkling wine. I pour up to 35 ml in a fine wine glass. The glass itself should compliment the grape variety. I have Burgundy, Bordeaux and Riesling shaped glasses in which I will taste all kinds of wines. 3 different shaped glasses is actually enough but really, the more the better.
When I taste I am always aware of the price, which I keep in my mind throughout the process. This is to determine how much I would sell this wine for.
So, the process begins with the perfume. The smelling or sniffings takes up to 5 minutes where I smell short or long then with one nostril and then with both again, where I smell with my nose and mouth in the same time and where I swirl the wine in both directions. So I will get a first nose, second nose and third nose, leading you to find the grape variety with its fruit – flower – herb components. Then you will have the perfumes which were given to the wine when the sugar changed to alcohol, i.e. when the malolactic fermentation took place. These perfumes are really only found in 1% of 1000 ml of wine.
Next, you will find out about the barrels, tanks and the tannins the wine has inherited or been matured in. It is then the third nose which gives a hint if the wine will last for a longer life or should be drunk quickly. And there is actually a forth nose where you want to find out if the wine is maybe already oxidised or has a cork smell or has some chemical substances inside – here we can actually get into animal fragrances. I do this over a period of 5 days.
A similar process continues with the tasting on the palate. I try the 35ml of wine in four tastings: with each sip, I understand the flavours more, getting nearer to understanding the body and its fruit – dry/sweet, aciditywith each flavour I do get nearer to the understand of the wine body and its fruit: dry\sweet; acidity , sour; tannin, bitter and fresh; salty character. The most important impact is that after all of this, what is the after taste like? Is it long and impressive, is this extraordinary, will my memory keep this flavour?
Of course, colour also has a part to play in my tastings, but it isn’t too important. So many times have I been deceived by shininess, darkness, brightness etc, when the wine’s perfume and flavour did not meet expectations. But, colour often helps in the final decision of whether to buy or not to buy – which reminds me of the words, “to be or not to be” in my wine list for example.
In these (up to) 6 days, food plays an important role too. To taste, slurp, inhale, sip, swirl and drink without a bite is like to kiss without joy or to run with a much too heavy body! For me the essence of getting to the soul of a wine is it’s camaraderie with cheese, bread, cold cuts, and pate and of course cooked meals with pasta, potatoes and others. Only in this way, will I really understand the wine and find out if the wine will last in my wine cellar for another year or many more years. This is absolutely essential for my final decision to accept or reject on my wine list, the wine on my table.
Below you see some of my last tasted wines and which I approved to become a member on my wine list in the St. Regis Bali Resort. I really hope you can taste them too and you that you will may agree with me that they are, each in their own way, great wines.
Sancerre, Pascal Jolivet, Loire, France 2011
Sancerre is synonymous for good Sauvignon Blanc today, yesterday, and always.
Mouth: Taut and well defined but also framed by the refreshing acidity. the bite of fruitiness and a zip full of harmonized dryness gives the pleasure to me to call this wine a diamante from the Loire area. The firm structure of majesties emerges in the whole palate when sipped rightly and through the long, long, finish. Alas a wine again.
Carruades De Lafite, Pauillac, France 2005
I believe that there are not many wineries that can say that the second wine they produce belongs to the best of the best in the region. H. W.
Nose: Very nice wheel of aromas like sweet lead pencil, ripe expression of black cherries and dry cassis fruit. There are also some floral notes and hints of woodiness which make the wine’s perfume more intense quite a impressive performance of one of the world’s best ‘second wines’.