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See the wine

After giving the glass a couple gentle swirls, hold it with light as a backdrop, or something white like paper, so you can examine its color. The legs, or tears as the French call the phenomena, are a manifestation of combined alcohol, glycerol, and the rate of evaporation of the alcohol and the surface tension between solids and liquids. Legs are not an indication of good wine, but are fun to notice. Observe the clarity of the wine, which can also indicate that it has not been fined. This is a wine making technique used to remove solids, versus filtering, which can put more stress on the wine.

Wine is best enjoyed in small sips. Sense how the wine enters your palate. This is by design, with some wineries spending considerable time with staff testing wine glasses filled with ice water, and analyzing how the shape of the glass influences the way the wine crosses your palate. When tasting the wine, notice sweetness, acidity, tannin, body and alcohol which are manifested on different zones of your palette. Flavor characteristics and intensity described in flavors and smells that you know are a simple way to express the many tastes that can make up a wines flavor profile. The length of finish and aftertaste, overall balance of the wine and how it expresses its variety of grape, or clone of grape is also important to know. Don’t be intimidated- Google Robert Parker’s Glossary of Wine Terms to kick start your wine antennae when it comes to describing and recognizing the bouquet and flavors you’re sensing.