If you’ve ever done a day of wine tasting, you’ll inevitably come home with purchased wine. But did you ever wonder why you love a wine so much at the winery, but when you pull the cork at home a few days later, it just doesn’t live up to your memory?
The good news is, you’re not alone. The even better news is that if you read this article and put these tips into practice, the chances of it happening again are pretty slim.
What is Palate Fatigue?
You may have noticed that after you’ve tasted a few wines (or even had a few glasses of the same wine), it all tastes the same. That’s because of what we call “palate fatigue.” Palate fatigue will eventually happen when you consume alcohol, especially if you’re imbibing wine or spirits that are very high in alcohol or very sweet. Some examples might be big red wines from California or Australia, Port, or any kind of fortified or dessert wine.
Once your palate is fatigued, you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between a Grand Cru Burgundy and Yellowtail chardonnay.
But professional wine tasters, sommeliers, and wine judges can all taste dozens of wines in a relatively short space of time. A wine judge might taste 80 wines in a day and still be capable of quantifying the wine and writing an accurate tasting note.
Today, we’re going to learn their secrets, so you can outlast all your friends and be absolutely certain you’re not wasting good money on a wine you won’t love tomorrow.
Secrets of Professional Wine Tasters
There is truly only one way to survive a day of wine tasting. You might be a little squeamish about it at first, but this is what the pros do.
When you taste wine, you don’t need to swallow it to be able to know everything about it. Wineries will supply a cup for you to spit into, or they’ll have a spittoon. We suggest laying in a supply of red cups to take with you so you always have your own cup and won’t have to worry about the ick factor.
Simple Wine Tasting Survival Tips
- First, nose the wine. This is where you’ll pick up the aromas and bouquet.
- Next, swirl the wine in the glass and nose it again. You may notice different aromas.
- Then, take a sip of the wine and swish it around to every corner of your mouth and under the gums, like mouthwash. This is where you’ll get an impression of the wine. You sense acidity on the sides of the tongue, sweetness at the tip, bitterness (and alcohol) on the back.
- Draw in a little bit of air in between swishes.
- Spit the wine into your receptacle.
At this point, you’ll know whether you like the wine or not. Take notes if you want. At the end of the tasting, review what you’ve had and purchase the ones you really like. Where it gets challenging is after you’ve tasted ten or so wines (which is not unusual when you’re out tasting at wineries). And even if you’re spitting, you will absorb a little alcohol – but if you spit, you’ll have a much better chance of getting to the finish line both sober and well-stocked with wine you won’t regret!