The order in which you taste wine can have a profound impact on the aromas and flavors that you find in each glass, proving the first important tip for any wine-tasting experience during your Italy trip.
While on a tasting tour of wineries, cellars, or vineyards in Italy, your sommelier will serve wines according to certain important rules. By asking questions and keeping an open mind about possible flavor profiles, micro-regions, and more, you may find collective characteristics of a variety of wines you enjoy in order to learn more as you continue to sample new varietals.
These distinctions make it easier to find the essential aromas, layered flavors, and varied weights of the wines you are sampling so you can explore and experience their dynamic characteristics with your preferences in mind.
It is not just about white vs red. The tasting order for wines in Italy depends more on light body vs heavier body, dry vs sweet. These distinctions can give you a better understanding of the depth of character each wine has, while also providing more insight into the soils in which the grapes were grown. Wine becomes not only an introduction into a regional delicacy, but also the geography and heritage of any town, city, or countryside vineyard you visit.
When discovering the wines of Italy, the tasting order is the first essential step to enjoying the diversity for which Italy’s wines are known.
Looking at the wine is the first step in wine tasting, which occurs before swirling, smelling, or sipping, allowing you to assess the hues of the wine to gain a better sense of the type of wine that you will sip. You will start to consider the depth of each wine's color beyond red and white, developing an understanding of how wines derive distinct colors from the contact with the grape skin, which not only imparts the different hues, but also the various characteristics of the grape into the wine. The following characteristics typically impact the nuances in color of white and red wines:
Swirling the Wine
After inspecting your glass of wine, you will want to begin swirling it around the glass to impart more oxygen into the wine. Oxygen helps break down complexities of the wine, allowing it to “open up” and emit aromas, while also softening the flavor profile. There is no industry-specific way to swirl the wine in the glass, but typical standards consist of holding the glass by the stem or the base, avoiding the bulb where the glass meets the stem.
Looking for Legs
“Legs” in wine refers to the tears that stream down the side of the glass. They do not allude to the quality or the flavor of the contents inside the glass, but more often connote the alcohol level of the wine. If the legs move slowly down the sides of the glass with a thick gloss then the wine likely has a higher alcohol level or a higher sugar content. Shorter legs, which refers to a faster-moving streak, means the wine has less sugar and less alcohol.
After swirling, you will want to gain a better idea of the wine's distinct aromas and do this by sticking your nose deep into the wine glass, closing your eyes to encourage your sense of smell, and inhaling deeply to find aromas that connect with familiar scents. Detecting aromas in wine is subjective, and while some individuals may pinpoint the specific scents within a wine, others will uncover or describe aromas based on their unique perspectives. That said, there are some guidelines to assist you in finding and describing aromas when wine tasting in Italy. You will want to start by searching for the following:
Describing the Smells of the Wine
Describing the aromas of a wine can help to communicate the style of wine that you prefer and the characteristics that you look for when choosing your preferred glass or bottle. By finding the proper terms to describe the varied aromas of wine that you sample, you can then use those same terms to relay the type of wine that you wish to have with dinner, enjoy during a summer afternoon in Italy, or buy for a special occasion.
Detecting aromas in a wine is subjective. While many people may find similar scents, different individuals can uncover or describe aromas based on their life experiences, while also varying due to their level of sensitivity, recognition, and ability to communicate what they find. Common descriptive aromas include:
By first smelling the wine, we can better prepare ourselves for the flavors to come by anticipating sour, sweet, salty, or bitter notes, which are based upon the variety of aromas that we detect when breathing in the wine. The bitterness of a wine depends on the grape, while the sweetness is only detectable through tasting, as only the tongue can detect the flavor profile. When sampling the flavor of a wine, use the following tasting recommendations:
Common Wine-tasting Terms
There is a range of terms associated with describing the process of wine-making and characteristics of the wines themselves. Knowing the terms that are used within the wine community portrays the ways others speak, share, converse, and learn about wine, opening the door for you to lead into deeper discussions. The following list offers nine of the top terms that are associated with describing wine:
Instead of having to do the groundwork yourself, a Zicasso travel specialist will find a variety of vineyards, both famous and boutique, as well as private drivers who know the areas, so that you can simply indulge in the pleasures of wine tasting in Italy. Whether desiring a tour that is guided by a wine-industry professional, such as a local sommelier, or preferring to discover the depth of different wines on your own, Zicasso customizes all Italy Tours and Vacations to suit your tastes. Seeking more inspiration for your tour? Browse our Italy Travel Guide or call a specialist by completing a Trip Request or dialing 1-888-265-9707.