When I was a freshman in college, I took a public speaking class. One of the assignments we were required to do was to write and deliver a speech that explained to our class a step-by-step process. I chose wine tasting! I explained the wine tasting process of Look, Swirl, Smell, Taste. When first presented with a glass of wine, you can notice three things: the color, the consistency (how dark the wine is), and the clarity. Next, to swirl the wine, it’s important not to over pour it, to use a wine glass that tapers at the top, and to swirl the wine on a flat surface. The third step is to smell. What the taster might consider when smelling the wine is the intensity of the aroma (how powerful or mild it is), and the different “notes,” or aromas that can be picked out. Lastly, after having looked at, swirled, and smelled the wine, it is time to taste! During tasting, the dryness or sweetness of the wine (which will be influenced by the residual sugar in the wine) can be taken into account, as can the acidity of the wine (acidity helps hold the wine together, but too little makes the wine flat and too much makes it tart), and the tannin level of the wine, the component of wine that is affected by the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes and which can give the wine a dry or bitter taste.
I recently started working at a winery on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is the first organized and longest running wine trail in the United States. It is compromised of wineries, distilleries, cideries, and a brewery all along Cayuga Lake. I work at Cayuga Ridge Estate, a winery about 20 miles up the lake, doing tastings. The winery is a nice environment to work in because the majority of the people who come in are simply there to relax and spend time with friends and family while enjoying the delicious wines that this region of New York has to offer.
Despite the wine tasting process that I deliberated on earlier, I’ve come to realize that there’s really no right or wrong way to taste wine (though going through the process might help one enjoy it to the fullest). Because everyone has such a unique pallet, different people will inevitably pick out various tastes and aromas that might not match up with the description of the wine. While there is plenty of room to develop taste, there really is no right or wrong thing to taste or smell. This is good, the differences are what makes it fun.
So far I’m finding that my favorite type of wine is the dry Riesling, a type of wine the area is especially well-known for. The dry Riesling has a delicious clean, crisp, and mineral-like taste that I really enjoy. I’ve only visited a few wineries along the trail so far, and I’m hoping to do more very soon before summer comes to a close!