wine tasting tips

Wine Tasting Tips From My First Virtual Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting Tips

I’m loving all the ways small businesses are learning to be creative while immersed in a pandemic and global crisis. Il Palio, one of my favorite Chapel Hill restaurants, has started to offer virtual wine tastings! They hosted me for a virtual wine tasting on Facebook Live and I learned some wine tasting tips from Annabel Butler, Il Palio’s sommelier. She walked me through the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Grid, and it was such an enlightening introduction to the intricacies of wine tasting.

If you’d like to skip to the video, click here.

Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Format

Virtual Wine Tasting

First, observe the appearance of your wine.

The first part of the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Grid is to observe the appearance of your wine. How’s the color? Annabel judged our Pappalo to be ruby (as opposed to purple or garnet.) Another thing to observe with our sense of sight is the clarity. Meaning, is it clear or cloudy? Is there evidence of gas? And how about the viscosity?

Bonus tip: Annabel suggested using a white paper to hold your wine over help you observe the color.

Now, give your glass of wine a sniff!

Now use your sense of smell! After you’ve poured yourself a wine, give it a few twirls to help aerate your wine. Annabel suggested decanting and letting your wine aerate for as long as thirty minutes for optimum taste quality.

When you inhale the smells, can you pick up any fruit notes? How about non-fruity notes like spices, wood, florals, or minerals?

Bonus tip: Annabel suggested smelling things often while you cook or interact with ingredients to help hone your sense of smell.

Now, taste and observe for structure!

Ah, finally, the exciting part of wine tastings. The actual drinking! The third part of the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Grid is to taste for structure. How is the body of the wine? What is the level of sweetness? Acidity? Tannin and alcohol?

Taste and identify for flavor notes.

Once you get a sense of the structure of the wine after tasting it, start to see if you can break down flavors. Are you picking up spices? Certain berries? Minerals? How balanced in the wine, meaning does any flavor notes dominate? How complex is the wine?

Then draw your conclusions.

After talented sommeliers go through these four parts of the tasting format, they can then use their vast experience and education to pinpoint things like region of the wine, possible grape varieties, age-range, and more. It’s so awe-inspiring to me how keen a sommelier’s senses and knowledge have to be to do their job well!

Whew, and that concludes the components on doing blind wine tastings as guided by the Court of Master Sommeliers deductive tasting format. I’m so grateful I had a personal guide in Annabel and Il Palio. If you’re in Chapel Hill, I recommend booking a virtual wine tasting with them!

I uploaded virtual wine tasting onto my Youtube channel where I upload episodes of Try Something New Tuesday! You can see the virtual wine tasting embedded below.

Il Palio is also open for both takeout and dine-in during COVID-19.

As mentioned in the video, Il Palio has implemented safety precautions during COVID. There is a beautiful patio (pictured above), and the tables inside the dining room are spaced at 8 feet apart. Please don’t forget to wear your mask and generously tip your server.

The recommended pairing to the wine I tasted during the virtual wine tasting is this delicious bolognese, one of my favorite dishes when I dine at Il Palio!

Il Palio
1505 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

For even more content about the Triangle, check out my Ultimate Guide to the Triangle.

Now over to you! Do you have any wine tasting tips you can share with me in the comments?

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