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Wine Tasting 101

Take a quick course in Wine 101. Here are a handful of wine-tasting tips from the heart of Colorado Wine Country in Grand Junction.
The Grand Valley is pouring plenty of wine these days.
The Grand Valley is pouring plenty of wine these days.
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Not a wine connoisseur just yet? Here's all you need to know to start enjoying your own Colorado wines:

The equipment:

  • Clear, stemmed wineglasses, preferably ones that slant inward at the rim.
  • Pitcher of water for rinsing.
  • Bucket for spitting (not considered impolite at a tasting) or for dumping excess wine.
  • Cubes of bread to clear the palate between wines.
  • Notebook and pen for recording impressions as you taste.

The steps:

  • Starting with the lightest wine, pour no more than an inch into each glass.
  • Hold it up to the light to look at the opacity and color. (Hint: White wines gain color as they age; red wines lose color.) 
  • Holding the stem, not the bowl, gently swirl the wine. With your nose right over the opening of the glass, inhale lightly to get an initial impression of the aroma, then stick your nose right into the glass and inhale deeply. Try to relate the aroma with a fruit, plant or spice.
  • Take a small sip and let the wine flow over your tongue. Open your lips slightly and draw in a bit more air and "chew" the wine so that it touches all taste buds. 
  • Swallow the wine and consider how long its taste lingers (this is called the wine's "finish"). 
  • Dump out the remainder, rinse your glass and proceed to the next heaviest wine.
  • Make notes not just of the color, aroma and finish but how well you actually like the wine.