How to Taste Wine Without Looking Stupid: Lessons from Sommelier David Stansfield
The sommelier shared his tips at the two-hour #EarlsxVanMag wine event, Rebels and Icons.
February 21, 2018
“Everybody loves cheap wine,” says sommelier and co-host of the Vancouver Urban Winery School, David Stansfield. And value bottles are out there…you just need to know how to identify them. That’s where Stansfield comes in. These are some of his top tips from the #EarlsxVanMag wine tasting event he hosted last week at The Loft at Earls Yaletown. (And don’t worry, we’ve included his bottle picks below!)
How to Properly Taste Wine:
1. Hold It Properly
Not by the cup, but by the stem. Judgmental somms will pick up on this, says Stansfield. Plus it’s going to keep white wines cool longer.
2. Check the Colour
Part of speaking wine is being able to report accurately on its colour. To do so, position your glass against a white or light surface so you can see the colour: if it’s clear, it means the wine is young; red wines should have a very deep colour. People usually ignore that part, but it is important and helps you to understand what you are tasting.
3. Swirl It
There’s actually a good reason to swirl your glass of wine, besides looking fancy. Swirling enlarges the surface of the wine that is in contact with the air—when the wine releases oxygen it also brings out the aroma, which takes us to next step.
4. Sniff It
“You actually have to stick your nose into the glass,” explains Stansfield. This may feel silly, but it’s the only way to get the full smell. Fruits are a good place to start. Can you smell peach, mango, nectarines or cherries, currents and blackberries?
5. Sip It
The most important step. Taste the wine to discover whether it’s sweet, bitter, acid or too alcoholic—and to find out how long those flavours dispel in your mouth. Learning how to taste wine can change the way you consume it.
Our Fave Bottles from the #VanMagxEarls Tasting:
Haywire Sauvignon Blanc Waters & Banks 2016, $24.90
Lively citrus notes and distinct “Okanagan” herbal aromatics. Beautifully balanced by a lush mouthfeel, backed by mouth-watering acidity.
Joie 2016 Quotidien Brut Chardonnay, $23
Vigorous fine mousse creates a mouthful of lemon meringue and pineapple fruit precisely balanced by juicy, racy acidity.
Tarot Alpha Box & Dice 2017 Grenache, $22
The colour of rosy red cheeks, the nose entices you in with aromas of strawberries and cream, red fruits and savoury spices. Ganey and juicy, it’s upfront and really easy.
Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza Rioja, $15
Smooth and velvety wine with sweet and ripe tanning that make it a pleasant and easy-drinking wine with a long aftertaste.