Hold a Blind Tasting
Set a goal: What is the goal of the tasting? Is it to judge the wines' quality or is it an attempt to identify the wines? In either case, tasting blind ensures that the bottle's label has no impact on your judgement. To ensure a high-quality tasting, it can be useful to have background knowledge, such as the nations from where the wines originate.
Focus on the wine: A spot that is tidy, well-lit, and free of distractions is ideal for tasting. When you're in a cellar, at a big wine supper or tasting event, or in a restaurant, it could be more difficult to focus on the taste. You can better identify the colour of the wine by using clear, consistent glasses and a white background.
Hide the labels: Set up a service to open the bottles of wine and pour them away from you, or place the bottles in bags with a rubber band around the neck to hide the label. When the temperature is correct, taste: White wines should be tasted between 11 and 14 degrees Celsius (52 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit); removing the bottles from the refrigerator about an hour prior to the tasting will ensure that they are cool enough to maintain their freshness but not too cold to mute aromas and conceal taste and texture. Red wines should be tasted between 15 and 18 °C (59 and 64 °F), or just below room temperature. Just enough chilling time—20 minutes in the refrigerator—should be provided before tasting. You can compare wines more consistently if the wines are all the same temperature.
Swirl the wine: The wine is given air and helps release its aromas by being swirled in the glass. 30 to 50 mL is the ideal amount for tasting (about 1.5 ounces). Keep your taste buds open: Your palate won't get tired when tasting if you spit the wine into a spittoon (which can be built out of anything: a jug, a jar, or a Champagne bucket). To help your palette adjust as you taste, keep some bread, crackers, or olives on available. After tasting highly acidic wines, James favours high pH water, like that found in Tuscany, to soothe his palate. To replicate this effect at home, consider purchasing alkaline bottled water.
GET TO KNOW THE 100-POINT RATING SYSTEM:
The 100-point scale is an obvious approach to evaluate wines to one another and was developed from the conventional school grade style. Assigning letter grades as though you were in school is a mental shortcut. Avoid a wine if your rating for it is less than a B. Life is too short to sip terrible wine, after all. James used this technique for his tasting notes at JamesSuckling.com as well as at Wine Spectator. Don't just think about the strength, harmony, and complexity of the individual components; think about how they work together as well. Does a wine, for instance, with a lot of body still have enough acidity to taste crisp and fresh? Does a wine with a strong tannic character have the flavour depth to support its robust structure? 15 points are given for the wine's colour, 25 for the aroma, 25 for the palate or structure, and 35 for overall quality on a scale of 100.
• 100 points (A) - Wines that you fall in love with and that have a deep emotional impact. You hurriedly purchase a case of these wines, and you will never forget them. Wines with a score of 100 are excellent; they have the correct proportions of complexity, balance, and intensity at every level.
• 95–99 points (A) – Wines that make you "want to drink a bottle of them alone" are those scoring 95 to 99 points. They are renowned vintage wines that are among the top in the world. They score incredibly well across the board but fall short of the 100-point wines' degree of perfection.
• 90–94 points (A) – wines that entice you to consume the entire glass right immediately. These wines are excellent and don't really have any flaws, although there are a few places where they could be even more thrilling.
• 85–89 points (B) – wines that are well-crafted and tasty yet may be better in a few areas. Alternatively, they can be great in all other respects yet fall short in that one.
• 80–84 (B) – wines that are free of technical flaws (such as bacterial spoilage), but have a number of qualities that could make drinking them unpleasant.
• 70–79 (C) –borderline-undrinkable wines with significant winemaking flaws. Life is too brief, thus it's best to prevent it. Fortunately, not many wines of this kind are produced today!
Below I have included a wine tasting spread sheet so you can complete a wine tasting at home and try out these techniques yourself.
Happy Drinking 🍷