Boston Wine Expo, South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Apsen Food & Wine – all perfect opportunities to sip, sample and learn about wine. Trouble is – many wine lovers have a difficult time trying out more than a handful of wines before they suffer from palate fatigue or (worse yet) a major wine buzz. So how do professionals taste 50-100 wines in a day? Real professionals spit when sampling wine. The same holds true for professional training. I always require WSET students to spit during class. That said, the way to get the most out of a tasting is to have a strategy in place before you arrive. Take this weekend’s Cleveland International Wine Show for example. Smart tasters will start with a sip of bubbly or a Sauvignon Blanc to prime the palate while they walk the floor or give the show program a look to see what wines are being poured. First stop, go to the pavilion that has the most number of high acid whites such as the Bubbles, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Give these light bodied wine a try first before diving into fuller whites and reds. And remember to really purse your lips when you spit – doing so will prevent any dribbles that might otherwise occur. After 10-15 tastes – head for the food table and grab some bread or crackers to moderate the acid on your palate. Then move on to fuller whites such as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Don’t worry about tasting all 6 wines at each table. Just ask for a sample of the specific variety you are looking for and walk away. With four hours to taste and more than 500 wines uncorked, we gotta keep moving. Light bodied reds should offer a welcomed dose of tannin and are easily sampled right after the whites if you keep spitting. Give a select 10-15 a try and then head back to the food area to pick up nibbles and give your palate a break. Take in a free wine seminar in one of the theatres or just kick back and listen to some great music. When you are feeling refreshed – head back to the tasting pavilions and tacklethe big reds. Keep your favorites for last and when you try them give up on spitting. Savory reds are ripe for drinking and – after all that tasting & spitting – you’ve earned the right to drink a few sips! Cheers.
About the Author: Marianne Frantz
A Certified Wine Educator, Marianne holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) of London, and has also earned the Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. After successfully participating in an educational competition sponsored by the Wines of Australia in the spring of 2008, Marianne became an educational Ambassador for Wine Australia USA. She is also a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.