How to taste wine
When going to a wine tasting, dress well but comfortably. If you’ll be spending time outdoors, plan for the weather. You may want to split your tastings with a friend, to keep from spending too much on tasting fees, not to mention drinking too much.
Always hold a glass of wine by the stem or the base, so the warmth of your hand doesn’t heat the wine up. Examining the color and clarity of the wine will give you a sense of its age. Aerate the wine by placing the glass on a flat surface and swirling it a little. This will not only reveal the body of the wine, but bring out the aroma.
When tasting the wine, pay attention to how it feels in the mouth as well as the taste. It might have the sweetness of the fruit or traces of unfermented sugar, or the bitterness of tannins. After you’ve swallowed it, try to notice the aftertaste, or finish. With most foods, an aftertaste is something unintended and unpleasant, but with wine the finish is an important part of the experience. Drink water between wines, to clear the palate.
Wine tasting at a vineyard near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where visitors can sample current releases and library wines and learn about the process of making and storing the wine. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase. Plan a visit this year.