You’ve seen it before. Funny people conjuring up funny adjectives to describe a glass full of fermented grape juice. Are some wines better than others? Sure. But its in the eyes of the beholder. Just like anything else. I think the Philadelphia 76ers are cool as hell. You probably think they stink. Whatever. The same with wine.
There is, however, a simple approach to evaluate any given wine in a systematic, analytical way. (Example: the 2014-15 Sixers do stink, they’re 12-40 as I write this). They are the following….
Does it look like shit? i.e. is it cloudy? Does it have crap floating around?
If its got a clean look to it, thats a good sign.
Don’t bother with the tears/legs stuff….waste of time.
Smell (hilariously referred to as “Nose”)
How intense is it?
Can you smell that sucker when your nose is pointed straight and your glass is on the table?
Or do you really need to stick your nose inside the glass, making an unfortunate ass out of yourself?
Also, if it straight smells bunk, that for obvious reasons is a bad sign.
Seven main things you can identify in wine are….
1.) Is it dry or sweet? Or somewhere in between? For the most part, the tip of the tongue is where this is figured out. For one reason or another its easiest for the brain to detect sweetness out of the six human tastes. Maybe thats why most of us think candy is the shit.
2.) Acidity. This is simply identified by how much your mouth waters when it reacts to the wine. Usually experienced in the back of your throat or under your tongue. Think about eating a lemon. Boom, your mouth is a waterfall. Thats high acidity.
3.) Tannin. Tannin is only found in red wine. Its a straight up feeling in your mouth. The opposite of acidity. If acidity will make you feel like there’s a sprinkler system in your mouth, tannin is that drying, where’s my saliva feel you get when you’re drinking a red. You feel this most in your gums and back of your throat. Sometimes tannins are in your face, harsh and basically chewable, other times their smooth, present and doing its dry thing, but not to the point of annoyance.
4.) Body. Is it a mouthful or kind of watered-down and easy to drink? A lot of times has to do with the alcohol content, but not always.
5.) Alcohol. Commonly perceived as a slight burning in the back of your throat. Think about doing a shot of vodka. It hurts and sucks and thats a lot of alcohol and you know it. Same with wine, but on a very smaller scale. Too much and its not well integrated and you’re like “this is kinda gross.” Too little and you’re like “what the fuck?”
6.) How long is the finish? Don’t think too hard about this one and definitely don’t sit there looking like an informed jerk bag who counts the seconds of how long the wine tastes. Thats the worst. The taste is either gonna dip out on you leaving you disappointed or hang out for a bit and be exciting. Kind of like sex.
7.) How intense are the flavors in the wine? We talked about intensity in the smell because smell is where you generate all your flavor profiles from. Apply the same concept to actually tasting it. Again some people get real weird with this and come up with ridiculous adjectives. You can do that too if you want. Make it your own. Do you. Whatever’s clever.
Every wine I drink, every other night of the week, I’ll tell you what I taste while trying to touch on these accessible points. Because seriously, who wants the hogwash? I just want to dumb it down for you so you can make your own call. And tell help you with that call and because we’re a nation of judgmental a-holes, I’ll rate em as I see em, 1-10, 10 being the highest. Anything over 8 will be something I recommend. You can find a list of those under the “Categories” tab.