On display at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery are twelve wood carvings – one for each month of the year – each depicting an important part of the winemaking lifecycle. We’re diving into each month and where winemakers have traditionally kept their focus during that time in our editorial series, The Vintner’s Calendar.

Sebastiani’s Vintner’s Calendar wood carving for December illustrates the process of tasting.

Once the wine is fully fermented and bottled, it’s time for the most exciting part of the winemaking process—tasting. Remember that when you are tasting wine, you are tasting the winemaking team’s hard work and dedication. The wine in the bottle you purchased is both an art and a science.

When tasting, you want to grab the glass by the stem and look at what you’re tasting. Depending on if it’s red, white, or pink, you’ll be able to guess what flavors and aromas you’re going to find in the wine. The legs of the wine will be able to tell you how much alcohol and sugar there will be as well.

Take a sniff and see what aromas waft through your nose. After that, swirl the wine in the glass and see if you can point out more aromas. Swirling releases the aroma compounds in the wine, which is why you’ll be able to pick up more components when you smell it again.

Next, take a sip. Don’t gulp it down right away, but gently swish the wine over your tongue so you can taste all of the flavors. It helps to write down what you’re tasting during this process. Humans have five basic tastes: bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and umami (or savory). You’ll also want to consider the five basic traits of wine while tasting: sweetness, alcohol, tannin, acidity, and body. Knowing the basic tastes and traits of wine will help you improve how you taste wine.

Savor the wine. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with a meal or with friends and family. If you drink it too fast, you don’t get to experience all of the flavors the wine has to offer. Sip slowly to familiarize yourself with the wine you’re drinking for a more enjoyable experience.

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