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Old 11-14-2006, 11:36 PM   #11
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He'd like to change places with my husband -
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:42 PM   #12
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Reanie, just do as the quote in my signature says and you'll be fine. Invariably, there will be one person around you or in your group during the tasting who will be the first person to speak up about wine's nose, viscocity, taste, etc. Because conformity is human nature, everyone will start agreeing with that one person even though maybe they didn't at first (one person might've gotten blackberry, but the designated "wine expert" said he got cherry, so that person changes to cherry as well). Just agree with everyone else externally and no one will ever know.

And a simple black dress would be fine. Dolce & Gabbana, BCBG, or DKNY have some really simple, yet elegant and stylish black dresses.
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:32 AM   #13
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Reanie, you have certainly received excellent tips here that should see you through any wine tasting. Nevertheless, I will add my 2 bits' worth for good measure.

1. When the wine is poured, just lift the glass from as low as possible from its stem (be careful in the beginning not to tip the glass over - on this account at least, the simple black dress mentioned in some posts would do just fine, less so for the table cloth, but you cannot have everything) hold it against light or a white wall as background and observe its colour (it's red of course but never mind) with as studious an expression as possible on your face. It would be of advantage to mouth such terms as deep mahogany, ruby red, etc. (Google may be of help here), but you don't have to say anything really. Just enter a note or two (the organiser of the tasting usually provides pencil and paper for this purpose) and make them as unintelligible as possible (in case someone looks over your shoulder).

2. Swirl the wine around the glass. (Careful! This may also have an impact on dress and tablecloth alike. Just watch how the others do it but do not be as exuberant as the most experienced of them). Presumably this should release the aroma of the wine for you to smell. Therefore, just as the others, put your nose into the glass as far as it can go and inhale deeply. Once again, you are lucky. Terms such as bouquet followed by any single name (or combinations thereof) of exotic fruits or even flowers (currant, pomergranate, wild cherry, ????berry, etc) are not really necessary at first. A deeply appreciative facial expression will do just fine followed by a studious entry of a couple of further notes (in the same type of handwriting mentioned earlier).

3. Now comes the real part. Take a sip of wine and a sizeable one at that (without running any undue risk of having some dribble down your chin). Do not gulp it down and do not spit it out as yet. Swirl it around your mouth without undue concern for doing in public things that your mother may have taught you that are bad table manners (look around you at the more experienced tasters to see what I mean). All this is supposed to reveal how the wine tastes on the tongue, the palate, perhaps in an ocassional tooth cavity, or other parts of your mouth (but be careful not to explore too far back for obvious reasons). Eventually do spit out the contents of your mouth into the bucket that is provided for this purpose. Notions of proper table manners still do not apply.

4. Finally, the nitty gritty. It will probably be impossible to get away at this stage with approving facial expressions, gestures, and entries in your notes only. You must say something now for sure. As advised earlier very correctly, agree with those around you, more enthusiastically so with those who have something good to say about the wines tasted. For maximum effect, you can add to their comments. The safest additions of this type are taste attributes. Just build up an inventory of exotic and hopefully obscure fruits and flowers and trot some of them out as the situation warrants. Remember again, that you are on solid ground provided that you do not disagree with anything. Thus if one detects a hint of black currant aftertaste in a certain wine, you can agree and add that there is also a faint notion of banana as well. Don't worry, it's unlikely that anyone would disagree with you either.

Have a good time!

P.S. Bonus pointer: If the wines to be tasted are old and therefore expensive ones, inevitably some of them will be well past their prime but no one will be willing to say so. Thus in the colour appreciation part, instead of saying "this wine is gone," say instead "the wine has an exquisite chocolaty tint."
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:15 AM   #14
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Thanks for the input - I am def. better prepared now!! You have all helped more than you know!!
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:07 AM   #15
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BTW - The wine is from the Tinazzi Winery in Verona Italy - Anyone familiar with them, or tried their wines??
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:27 AM   #16
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SMELL

Smell. Smell. Smell. I like to smell the wine sometimes more than I like to taste it. I smell it maybe 3 separate times before I taste it.

Google "wine aroma wheel" and find a wheel on line that helps in describing/identifying discernable aromas in wine. They range from all types of differnt fruit to grass to candy, leather to things you might think are foul but sometimes are not, like cat urine. Seriously. Study the wheel before you go to the tasting -- maybe try it out on some wine you have at home.

When you sip, try to get a little air into your mouth at the same time. Let the wine wash all through your mouth.

I confess to being a swallower but I only swallow one sip and spit if I take another sip. I get through mammoth convention center size tastings just fine but by all means do not actually consume a lot of wine. Make sure you use a clean glass for every wine.
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:39 PM   #17
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I've only been to a couple tastings, and they were all ones that I paid to go to.

I'm usually one to speak my mind which can insult people who don't take well to honesty. If it tastes like turpentine to me I spit it out and say "Too Harsh for me".

If it's smooth and balanced in my mouth - something I don't want to spit out, I say so and usually swallow it.

What I hate the most is when someone offers you a taste of wine that has just been opened. Some of the alcohol evaporates if you let it set (along with some oxidation reactions) which can remove that edge that some wines have.

I say just have fun! If you're afraid of catching attention though, do the lemming head-nod and say it's good (or copy what someone else said). I went to a wine tasting at a local restaurant and they did something that really loosened everyone up. It started with solid-white water bottles you couldn't see into. All had the same wine. After everyone took a sip, the head wine hauncho took a poll of whether or not what we had just tasted was a Red or a White. The vote was about 50/50 which just went to show how many experts there were...

A winery I visited in California a couple years ago did this same thing. It must be in some handbook for informal tastings.
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:49 PM   #18
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exactly! just have fun!

there is no other food or beverage that we approach with such intimidation as wine in the US. somehow, most people have been convinced that you need a degree in oenology just to decide if you think a drink is tasty or not! and we're all so busy trying to "look smart enough" and impress everyone, like boufa's post was spoofing, that we sometimes forget that we're just hanging out having a drink at the bar (no matter what we're wearing while hanging out, or how fancy the bar is).

obviously, there are advantages of enjoyment to developing your palate...remember how you thought a plain old hershey's kiss was the height of chocolatey goodness when you were a kiddo? just like the 5 year old isn't going to appreciate the difference between kisses and godiva (candy!! yum!! same answer for both), the novice wine drinker might not appreciate differences between $500 and $10k bottles of wine...but one can certainly say wine!! yum!!

the profuse vocabulary, when done as intended rather than as a show of how special the "expert" thinks he is, is just a way to communicate exactly what about a wine's character you enjoy or don't. keep your secret smile on your face while you're internally laughing at any snobs that show up, and just have a great time, chilling out at the bar.
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Old 11-16-2006, 06:54 PM   #19
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Have fun, and don't be intimidated.
A very haughty friend of mine once gave me the best advice ever. He said, if you're in a situation where you know absolutely nothing about the subject, look for the nearest "expert" and ask him/her: " Well what do you think?? Please tell me more!!"
An expert on something can go on for hours!!!
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