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All About Wine Tasting: Preparing Yourself for a Winery Experience

Before you go to a winery, brush up on your wine knowledge so that you come in knowing the nuances of drinking wine.

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Summer is the perfect time to take a scenic drive out to one of Long Island’s many wineries.  Take a step back in time and feel like you’re in Gold Coast-style Long Island as you enjoy the outdoors and view vineyards while sipping locally-made reds and whites.  Sit back at classic vineyards in Riverhead and Baiting Hollow like Palmer Vineyards and Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard. or drive a bit further east to Clovis Point or Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue.  If you prefer not to make the long drive out east, or you would like to stop by a few vineyards safely as you drink, you can get vineyard-to-vineyard service aboard a wine tour by LI Vineyard Tours, LI Vino Tours, or First Glass Wine Tours of Long Island.  With a better understanding of wine tasting, you can get the most out of your winery experience and be a local wine connoisseur for your friends and family!

How to Taste Wine
Though drinking wine is easy, learning how to properly taste wine is not as easy as it sounds.  When going wine tasting, multiple senses must come into play.  There are many preliminary steps to evaluating wine prior to actually tasting it, such as swirling it to release its aromas, and looking at how the wine moves and leaves “legs” or “tears” on the sides of the glass.  Then, take a small sip of the wine, and while it goes into your mouth, suck on it as if pulling through a straw so as to aerate the wine and make each of the flavors and qualities stand out more.  Once you fully experience the taste of the wine, you can start describing it, or learning about the adjectives used for each wine from your winemaster.

Wine Adjectives
As most people know, wine comes in a variety of subtly different flavors.  Often, winemakers and wine servers come up with myriad adjectives to try to describe them, but do words like “oaky” really mean? Here are a few commonly used terms to describe wine that you may want to know for your wine tasting:

  • Balanced: This wine was prepared and aged so that no individual aspect – such as tannins, acid, sweetness, and alcohol – overpowers another.
  • Bouquet: Simply the aroma of the wine.
  • Oaky: This really does mean like oak, but it more specifically means having perceivable effects of being stored in an oak barrel.  An oaky flavor includes a sense of vanilla, nutmeg, or an otherwise toasted flavor.
  • Round: A wine with a balanced body that is not too tannic (bitter).

Wine Pairings
Wines are best paired with complementary foods with similar levels of sugar and acid, such as a sweet wine with a sweet food.  Red wines are meant to go with heavier meals, such as steaks, pork, lamb and duck, but did you know you can even pair some with barbecue?  Malbec goes great with spicy barbecue meals like wings or ribs.  White wines like Pinot Grigio go best with lighter meals, such as seafood dishes, chicken, and vegetarian dishes.