When you taste wine and you feel you haven’t the ability to smell the nose or taste the wine in such an expert way, don’t worry about it.
There is another way!
Use numbers. Score your wine out of twenty points. When you examine to colour, give points between 0 and 3 depending on the clarity and brightness of the colour and the size of the lip around the wine. Then give between 0 and 7 for the nose and how it pleases you. Finally give between 0 and 10 for the taste of the wine. 0 is equal for buying it for your mother-in law, and 10 for whether you intend trying to make an impression on a young millionnairess with large eyes.
When in a restaurant, and the wine waiter pours a sample for you to taste there should be enough in the glass to sip a couple of mouthfuls. Otherwise you cannot swill the wine around the glass to get a decent nose of the wine. A waiter without the experience will give you a quarter of an inch in the glass, don’t be afriad to say to them, I need at least two centimetres to be able to test the wine.
First of all look at the colour of the wine over a white light or a white table cloth. Look for cloud or foreign objects in the wine. Then swill the wine around the glass and sniff – you will soon know if there is something funny there! If all seems fine, take a decent mouthful and swirl the wine around the mouth before you swallow. This will give you the final judgement to see whether it is corked or not. One bottle in ten is corked but that isn’t quite as bad as it seems.
If you take corked wine in levels between level one a little corked, to level 10, very corked, different people’s palates can decide whether it is corked or not. Rather than the person at the head of the family testing, it is best to allow the person with the most experience of wine to make this important test. This way if the wine is corked and he can taste it, it can be exchanged. If someone who doesn’t know tests it and accepts it, then your experienced person will be saddled with a bad wine and his evening will be ruined.
If you want to test the difference between an old wine and a fresh wine at home, then buy a new wine and then also buy the exact wine, but a few years older. Then when you taste at home, open both bottles and taste the fresh wine first, followed by the old wine. This way you will learn that age with the right wines improves the wine magnificently.
A word of warning though. If you are happy with the low priced wines you are drinking, and for any reason, you are not prepared to pay more for the nectar of the gods, do not go to wine tastings at all. There is no point whatsoever in educating your palate if you are not willing to pay more.
I did, and am forever crippling myself buying wines which I find hard to afford on my pension!
And my mother-in-law stopped speaking to me.