In the eighth edition of the World Atlas of Wine, Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson give us the essential guide for tasting and appreciating wine.
Many of us are often guilty of drinking expensive wine without really tasting or appreciating it. This could be down to our impulses telling us that our sense of taste is located on the tongue rather than anywhere else, when in fact our tongue can only sense the basic notes: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and the savour of umami. The more distinctive sensations (such as the complex flavours of wine) are actually 'tasted' at the top of our noses, which means our smell is really important when tasting wine.
When we smell wine, vapour travels up our noses and sometimes to the back of the throat, past thousands of taste receptors. In the Atlas, Jancis notes how the receptors in our nose run directly up to the temporal lobe, which is why we can be stirred by vivid memories when we smell something: "Smell, the most primitive of our sense, has the privilege of instant access to our memory bank".
Tasting wine comes in many different forms. This can range from enjoying wine around your dining table at home, to blind taste tests for those qualifying as a Master of Wine. When you are at a restaurant and are poured a glass of wine, you become the "taster", the intention of which is not to see whether you like it or not, but rather whether the temperature of the wine is correct, and to check if there is an obvious fault.
For when that situation arises, here is Jancis and Hugh’s guide to tasting:
The eighth Edition of the World Atlas of Wine can be purchased here.
View the full Jancis Robinson wine collection here.
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