2 ways to taste wine or Gallant v. Goofus Drinking Addition

There are two ways to taste wine. One is for show and snobiness, and the other is to help you better taste the different parts of a wine.

We’ll set the scene at a tasting room to make it easily relatable.

First for “show”

  1. A wine snob, we’ll call him Goofus, walks up to the tasting bar and orders the pourer to pour him a glass of their biggest red.
  2. He looks at the color and clarity of the wine poured.
  3. He swirls the glass of wine on the bar.
  4. Looks at the “legs” of the wine running down the side of the glass.
  5. Goofus ticks his nose in the glass and takes a long and deep sniff.
  6. Then he drinks the whole glass of wine.
  7. Goofus leaves.

Now for understanding.

  1. A wine taster, we’ll call him Gallant, walks up to the tasting bar and asks how the pourer is today.
  2. They have a pleasant conversation about what wines the taster likes, and the pourer selects their first wine for them to taste.
  3. Gallant looks at the color and clarity of the wine poured
  4. He swirls the glass of wine on the bar.
  5. Gallant tastes a small sniff the wine above the rim of the glass.
  6. He then takes a small sip of the wine and lets it sit in his mouth.
  7. He sucks air in through his teeth aerating the wine in his mouth and moves it over his tongue
  8. He then spits out the wine.
  9. Gallant asks the pourer about the wine and how it was made.
  10. He then takes another sip, maybe with a bit of cheese or a cracker to see how it would taste with food.
  11. The conversation continues about the wine.
  12. When the glass is empty, either by Gallant dumping out what he did not like, or by sipping all that was given to him, the pourer selects another wine for him to taste, and the tasting process repeats.
  13. Gallant buys some of the wine he likes.

Source: http://the-toast.net/2014/09/19/goofus-gallant-tale-two-protagonists/

In general there are two obviously different things in how Goofus and Gallant taste wine, one is civility the other is intent, everything else in-between is just trained steps. Goofus only cares about drinking what he wants, while Gallant is interested in learning what he likes. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you like and if Goofus, walked up to the bar and asked to buy a bottle of that big red, it would have been completely appropriate, but alas, he did not.

One other thing that Goofus did that Gallant did not, was to look at the legs of the wine. The “legs” of the wine are simply the streams of wine as they run down the side of the glass. In the 80’s it was believed that thins legs proved the value of the wine, but all thin legs show is a higher alcohol content in the wine. It really has no value in the evaluation of how it is going to taste.

Let’s go through Gallant’s tasting and explain why he took each step.

  1. Gallant, walks up to the tasting bar and asks how the pour is today.
    • The person pouring the wine is your expert of the moment, they know about the wines and are your primary resource to understanding them. A friendly exchange is the best way to gain access to their expertise.
  2. They have a pleasant conversation about what wines the taster likes, and the pourer selects their first wine for them to taste.
    • Again the pourer knows the wines, and as you tell them about what styles you like, they will be able to select the ones you are most likely to enjoy.
  3. Gallant looks at the color and clarity of the wine poured
    • The color and clarity of the wine are good things to notes and we eat and drink with our eyes first. But the color of a wine can be misleading, something very light can be packed with flavor, so just make a small note of it.
  4. He swirls the glass of wine on the bar.
    • Swirling the wine allows for it get mixed and the smells of the wine to rise up in the glass.
  5. Gallant tastes a small sniff the wine above the rim of the glass.
    • Your nose is a sensitive smelling machine that can get overloaded. Allow it to smell what is coming out of the wine. As we have said, you have 6 tastes, but flavors are made up of smells. See what the smells remind you of.
  6. He then takes a small sip of the wine and lets it sit in his mouth.
    • Now you are beginning to taste the wine. The flavors are washing across your tongue.
  7. He sucks air in through his teeth aerating the wine in his mouth and moves it over his tongue
    • This is a way of retronasally smelling the wine. We do it naturally when we taste something, but just like paying attention to and breathing in a certain way when running, were are actively smelling and tasting the wine.
  8. He then spits out the wine.
    • Wine has alcohol, and after quite a few tastes and sips that alcohol can deaden your senses. If the goal is to taste, enjoy, and understand what wine you like, spiting the wine out after tasting is best. The alcohol will still get to you after enough tastings, but you will last longer if you are spitting.
  9. Gallant asks the pourer about the wine and how it was made.
    • Use your expert! Ask about flavors, how they were created, what grapes varieties are in the wine, how it was ages, or any questions that come to mind.
  10. He then takes another sip, maybe with a bit of cheese or a cracker to see how it would taste with food.
    • Gallant knows that he will most likely be drinking this wine in the future with a meal, thus he tries to recreate that future experience in some small way.
  11. The conversation continues about the wine.
    • Letting the pourer know what you liked or did not like about that wine gives them more information about your preferences and allows them to improve your tasting experience.
  12. When the glass is empty, either by Gallant dumping out what he did not like, or by sipping all that was given to him, the pourer selects another wine for him to taste, and the tasting process repeats.
    • It is not rude to dump the wine you did not like into a dump bucket. Many pourers would prefer you do this and only continue to sip what you enjoy.
  13. Gallant buys some of the wine he likes.
    • Tasting rooms are there to sell wine. They do so by giving people a wonderful experience, and show them what they make. I try and buy at least a bottle of wine from each winery I taste at, but that is just my minimum. I often go home with far more bottles than I should giving my “cellar” under the stairs in already full.

So, has Highlights taught us as kids: Be a Gallant, not a Goofus!

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