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Napa Valley Wine Tasting Educational Series – Part I

Napa Valley Wine Tasting Educational Series – Part I

Dictionary.com has a simple, one line definition of wine tasting, ‘noun 1.a gathering of critics, buyers, friends, etc., to taste a group of wines for comparative purposes.’ A Wikipedia entry is much more detailed but just as dry. How does this brief and technical description relate to Napa and Sonoma wine tasting tours? Our private and custom wine tours range from entry level bar tastings to the most indulgent and informative tours given at the  world’s famous wineries. We can help with an integrated education for your palate into the world of wine tasting.

The Pin Court Master Sommeliers Master Sommelier ExamEach sip of a wine tasting could be broken down into four simple stages. First is the visual appearance of the wine. Is it opaque or translucent? Cloudy? Effervescent? Is it a deep dark red or a bright ruby color? The next stage is argued as the most important, it is the smell, or bouquet, in the glass. These are the fruits, nuts and spices that make up the aroma spectrum in your nose. These initial impressions are confirmed in the mouth, our third stage of wine tasting. On your palate, wine is being sensed aromatically through the back of the nose, confirming the first sniffs from the glass. At the same time, the mouth is sensing, weight, density, acidity or tannin, as well as the length and texture of the finish. This finish is the lingering feel and flavor of the wine as it leaves the mouth, and constitutes the fourth stage of wine tasting. Together these evaluations are used to determine three things; the wine’s character and complexity; the wine’s potential to age and lastly; chemical and conditional flaws. Perception of wine is very subjective, and directly influenced by a myriad of environmental factors. The most important deduction from all of this, is to determine if you like the wine!

Wine Tasting Pride Mountain VineyardsThese wine tastings come in a dizzying array of styles and presentations, and in Napa Valley  and Sonoma Valleys there are plenty of wonderful wine tours available to educate your senses. The most common and familiar is the wine flight. This is a presentation of three to six wines poured in a particular order. A superb bar Napa and Sonoma wine tasting for the seriously interested is up at Pride Mountain Vineyards. The epic views are surpassed only by the wines, which are among the regions best. Tastings start in the light and white range, and follow the winery through the famous Cabernet Sauvignons.

Wine Tasting at Duckhorn VineyardsAnother style of wine tasting is referred to as vertical and horizontal. Vertical wine tastings usually include the same wine from different vintages, while horizontal tastings are the same vintage of wine from different vineyard origin. We sat in on a tasting at Duckhorn Vineyards that included both. This broad and customized private wine tour included limited release, single vineyard wines from across the Napa Valley. We sampled two vintages of the legendary Three Palms Vineyard, as well as single vineyards Cabernets and Merlots from the touted 2012 vintage. The final wrinkle on tasting wine is used mostly by professionals and other people who have practiced for many hours, the dreaded blind tasting. One of the most well known blind tastings is offered as a test by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Their blind, or as they call it, deductive wine tasting is used to certify that sommeliers are correctly identifying wines across the globe. This tasting grid represents the complicated, but rewarding, path they take to identify wines blind.

If you want to know more about why you love Pinot Noir so much, or you are getting ready for a blind tasting exam, Beau Wine Tours can create a custom Napa or Sonoma wine tasting tour perfect for you. Wine tasting is an experience that can take you from mountaintops to underground caves, and we can get you into the best appointments in comfort and style. Contact us today and let us introduce you to the wine tour you want!

Need more motivation to visit Pride Mountain Winery for a special wine tasting? The video below will give you all the inspiration you need.

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