Here’s the deal: every single bottle of wine was made for you to enjoy. You don’t have to feel bad if you don’t know how to drink it the “right way” or can’t instantly decipher its flavors.
The ability to immediately recognize a wine’s characteristics is a skill anyone (especially you, #kavino!) can develop because we all have the two requirements needed: a nose and a palette.
When drinking wine, think of your sense of smell and taste as muscles. You just need to flex them by familiarizing yourself with elements found in wine (such as the primary, secondary and tertiary aromas), and discover how they’re reflected in the flavor.
Credits to Wine Folly for this awesome flavor wheel!
Primary aromas are the fruity, floral, and herbal notes in wine. These are arguably the easiest to identify, as we humans encounter a myriad of fruits, flowers, and herbs in our daily lives.
Obviously, wine is made of grapes but the particular grape variety can have other organic flavors in it.It all depends on the region; more specifically, the terroir, which is basically the various environmental conditions that affect the soil—or vineyard—from which the grapes were grown and harvested.
Taste-wise, the primary flavors that your palette may detect are citrus, tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc), tree fruits (apple, pear, apricot), red or black fruits. You may also notice hints of flowers, like roses, lavender and potpourri, or vegetables, such as tomato and bell peppers.
Spices and earthy elements are also included in the primary flavors, so don’t doubt yourself when you detect black pepper, anise, or even wet gravel in your wine.
For wines that are available here in Manila, it’s very common to find red wines that have primary aromas of cherry and blackberry as primary flavors, and the white wines often have notes of pear and green apple.
Try practicing with a Moscato, which is known for its predominantly fruity flavors. When drinking Moscato, see if you can detect peach, honeysuckle, or even lemon, since these are flavors that are often found in this varietal.
Secondary aromas are those that develop during fermentation, and are produced when the sweetness of the juices mix with the bitterness of the grape’s skins and pits.
These aromas are also detected through their sourness, which are attributed by the yeast and microbes that naturally develop in the winemaking process. It’s these elements that produce the bready, creamy tastes that are apparent in full-bodied wines.
When you taste hints of mushroom, truffle, or meat, those flavors come from yeast, mold, and bacteria.
As a wine drinker, you don’t need to worry about these microbes because these are good bacteria that are beneficial to the wine.
An example of wine that has some meaty, and creamier flavor can be Shiraz (also readily available here in Manila), as it’s known for being one of the most full-bodied wines. When tasting Shiraz, it’s natural to recognize some hints of cured meat or bacon, along with taste of black berries and other dark fruits.
Tertiary aromas are flavors that develop during the wine’s aging and oxidation process, whether they were aged in bottles or oak barrels.
These flavors usually consist of potent and seemingly deep notes of wood, nuts, and even leather.
When wine is aged in oak, the flavors of the wood will naturally infuse themselves into the liquid. Since wood can also have some porous qualities, oak-aged wines tend to have more oxidation than bottle-aged types.
It is during this stage that flavors of vanilla, hazelnut, or coffee start to become apparent. You may even notice tastes that are similar to smoke, or cigar, which are also common in oak-aged wines.
A popular wine here in the Philippines is Cabernet Sauvignon, which is known for being aged in oak. When you taste a good Cab Sauv, it’s normal to taste hints of licorice, tobacco, and/or vanilla.
Now that you’ve been briefed about the flavor classifications of wine, make sure to drink regularly in order to appreciate its original flavors, as well as those that develop during the winemaking process. A good way to appreciate wine is to try every variety and discover all the elements that come into play from harvesting, to fermentation and finally, aging. Lucky for you, several varieties of red and white wines are already available in Manila, both in physical and online stores (Winery Philippines’ meticulously selected collection is always a great place to start!). Also, booking a wine tasting with a certified sommelier is a great way to learn about wine and exercise your palette, so drink up and be merry, #kavino! Your lifelong affair with wine is off to a great start.