60 seconds to taste the wine

I read this in a book and I wanted to share it with you!

The 60-Second Wine Expert

Over the last few years I have insisted that my students spend one minute in silence after they swallow the wine. I use a “60-second wine expert” tasting sheet in my classes for students to record their impressions. The minute is divided into four sections: 0 to 15 seconds, 15 to 30 seconds, 30 to 45 seconds, and the final 45 to 60 seconds. Try this with your next glass of wine.Please note that the first taste of wine is a shock to your taste buds. This is due to the alcohol content and acidity of wine. The higher the alcohol or acidity, the more of a shock. For the first wine in any tasting, it is probably best to take a sip and swirl it around in your mouth, but dont evaluate it. Wait another thirty seconds, try it again and then begin the sixty-second wine expert

0 to 15 seconds

If there is any residual sugar/sweetness in the wine, I will experience it now. If there is no sweetness in the wine, the acidity is usually at its strongest sensation in the first fifteen seconds. I am also looking for the fruit level of the wine and its balance with the acidity or sweetness.

15 to 30 seconds

After the sweetness of acidity, I am looking for great fruit sensation. After all, that is what I am paying for! By the time I reach thirty-seconds, I am hoping for balance of all the components. By this time, I can identify the weight of the wine. Is it light, medium, or full-bodied? I am now starting to think about what kind of food I can pair with this wine.

30 to 45 seconds

At this point I am beginning to formulate my opinion of the wine, whether I like it or not. Not all wines need sixty seconds of thought. Lighter-style wines, such as Rieslings, will usually show their best at this point. The fruit, acid, and sweetness of a great German Riesling should be in perfect harmony from this point on. For quality red and white wines, acidity-which is a very strong component especially in the first thirty seconds —should now be in balance with the fruit of the wine.

45 to 60 seconds

Very often wine writers use the term “length” to describe how long the components, balance, and flavor continue in the mouth. I concentrate on the length of the wine in these last fifteen seconds. In big, full-bodied red wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, Cabernets from California, Barolos and Barbarescos from Italy, and even some full-bodied Chardonnays, I am concentrating on the level of tannin in the wine. Just as the acidity and fruit balance are my major concerns in the first thirty seconds. If the fruit, tannin, and acid are all in balance at sixty seconds, then I feel that the wine is probably ready to drink. Does the tannin overpower the fruit? If it does at the sixty-second mark, I will then begin to question whether I should drink the wine now or put it away for more aging.

It is extremely important to me that if you want to learn the true taste of the wine, you take at least one minute to concentrate on all of its components. In my classes it is amazing to see more than a hundred students silently taking one minute to analyze a wine. Some close their eyes, some bow their heads in deep thought, others write notes.

One final point: Sixty seconds to me is the minimum time to wait before making a decision about a wine. Many great wines continue to show balance well past 120 seconds. The best wine I ever tasted lasted more than three minutes—thats three minutes of perfect balance of all components!

Any information shown above has been taken from Kevin Zralys 20th Anniversary Edition of “WINDOWS ON THE WORLD, Complete Wine Course”., via Vino Lefebvre.

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2 thoughts on “60 seconds to taste the wine

  1. Thanks so much for this post. Being a “layman” in terms of wine, I’ve never taken more than 10-15 seconds to fully taste and analyze wine.

    I always used to make fun of connoisseurs but I’ll try this the next time I have a glass of wine.

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