How do the wine fanatics taste wine?

We all at one point in our lives try to be sophisticated and learn how to taste wine. But is it more scientific than you may have first thought? Ideal Wine Company has learnt of the proper way to taste wine, and here’s how you can start practising.

Ideal Wine Company wine tasting
How do we taste wine?

The science behind it

Gordon Shepherd, a professor of neuroscience at Yale University, claims in his new book (Neuroenology: How The Brain Creates The Taste of Wine) that our sensory response to food and wine combine to create what we think if as flavour in things that don’t directly possess it. He says, “the molecules in wine don’t have taste or flavour, but when they stimulate our brains, the brain creates flavour the same way it creates colour”.

The brain creates colour by responding to the effects produced when light hits the object we see, however they are actually colourless. There are two movements that activate the brain when creating the flavour perception of wine; the movement of wine through the mouth and the movement of air through the nose and throat. However, the most important aspect isn’t from our sense of smell when we sniff the wine like we believe, but from the molecules released in our mouth when we breathe out.

Shephard says, “nosing a wine requires exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body”, as well as swirling the wine in your mouth engages the intricate muscles that control the tongue as well as stimulating thousands of taste and smell receptors.

He told The Times that “swallowing a wine is vital for obtaining the most information possible about the quality of a wine”. His research found that after just a few sips of wine, the brain gets saturated with information which makes it hard to process the flavour of the wine being drunk.

Tasting wine

There are four basic steps to tasting wine, they are used all over the world and are used by sommeliers to refine their palates and sharpen their ability to recall wines. The steps are as follows:

  • Look – a visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting.
  • Smell – identify aromas through orthonasal olfaction (breathing through your nose).
  • Taste – assess both the taste structure (sour, bitter, sweet) and flavours derived from retronasal olfaction (breathing with the back of your nose).
  • Think/conclude – develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long-term memory.

If you’re still unsure of how exactly to taste wine, check out our blog on how to act when wine tasting here.

What is a Vertical Wine Tasting?

Are you looking to throw a wine-themed event this holiday season? So if you want to opt for something a little different from the traditional wine tasting, you’re in the right place.

Vertical wine tastings

According to Wine About, a vertical wine tasting is where you “survey a series of wines based on vintages years.” Basically this means that you don’t drink the wines in random order. Instead you pick several bottles from one particular varietal of wine, and drink them in ‘vintage-year’ order.

This may seem pointless, but vertical wine tasting can help you get a better feel of a particular winery’s varietal style and composition. This is why we’d suggest that you supply literature on the vintages when you hold a vertical wine tasting. With this information attendees can compare and contrast vintages from different years. This will allow them to assess how a number of circumstances, such as weather patterns, effect the overall quality of the final product.

How to set up

It’s pretty easy to set up a vertical wine tasting. All you need to do is pick one varietal, do a little research and buy the vintages you want to try out. The real issue is how you present the wines. It really doesn’t matter, but there are different advantages to each method. If you present them oldest to youngest, there’s often a natural progression of tannins and body, because younger wines tend to be more tannic than their older equivalents.

If you take the opposite course of action, and present the vintages starting with the youngest and ending with the oldest, you can show attendees the advantages of wine aging. This is because, as the Ideal Wine Company has noted before, some wines grow increasingly complex as they age. Therefore if you choose this option you can follow the varietal’s evolution as it ages, which can often make for a fascinating wine tasting experience!

Try it out

If you like the idea of a vertical wine tasting, why don’t you try throwing one? You can buy a range of Chateau Lafite Rothschild vintages from the Ideal Wine Company that’d work really well. If you use them for a vertical tasting you can see how your chosen wine’s style changes from year to year!

Darlington Bar Holds Unique Wine Tasting Session

The Ideal Wine Company team has learned that a wine bar in Darlington recently held the most unique wine tasting event we’ve ever heard of.

Wine and food

The next time you go to a dinner party, you might want to take a bottle of wine. Not only is it a really nice gesture, but the subtle complexity of wine makes it the perfect complement for a range of dishes. If you’re looking for foods to pair with Rose wine, for instance, you might want to think about opting for dishes which include chicken, curry, salad or Spanish cheeses. The Vesuvio wine bar in Darlington has also now proved that there are certain wines that work fantastically with pastry.

Wine Tasting

The Daily Mirror reported that Vesuvio recently held a tasting session which paired a variety of wines with products from Greggs. The event, which was supported by the bakery chain, was designed to prove that wine and food matching doesn’t have to be formal, intimidating or complex.

The Darlington establishment’s event was attended by 30 wine enthusiasts, who received the opportunity to try eight unique combinations. The menu included ‘Mince Pie with Port,’ ‘Sausage Roll with a Portuguese Red,’ ‘Tuna Crunch Baguette paired with a Champagne-style Wine’ and ‘Festive Bake with a Medium Dry French Rose.’

Delivering something intriguing

Darren Shield, a wine expert who serves as director at Vesuvio Wines, commented: “I have worked in the wine industry for a long time and wine tasting can often be perceived as complex, overly formal, intimidating or even pretentious.

“We carefully attempted to match eight of Greggs’ popular products with eight of our wines and we think we delivered something very intriguing. It seemed to go down very well on the day and the feedback we have received since has been fantastic.”

Meanwhile Malcolm Copland, the commercial director at Greggs, added: “Our food is enjoyed by millions of people across the country and we recognise that customer tastes and eating habits are evolving, so our menu is too – and there’s no reason why our great food can’t be enjoyed with a fine glass of wine, occasionally!”

Sample our finest Port

We bet the ‘Mince Pie and Port’ pairing went down a treat! If you want to try this combination out for yourself, why don’t you buy Fonsecas Finest 1977 Vintage Port, which you can secure from the Ideal Wine Company for just £150 per bottle!

How Does Wine Taste Like Other Fruits?

Wine comes with its own language, and you need to learn how to speak this tongue if you want to develop a greater understanding of this fascinatingly complex tipple. With this in mind, the Ideal Wine Company asks; how does wine taste like other fruits?

Fruity wines

If you ever read a set of wine tasting notes, you’ll notice that they say the vintage in question tastes like certain fruits e.g. pineapple, lemon, blackberries etc. Does this mean that wine is made from a mix of fruits? In most instances, certainly in the cases of the wines on our product list, the answer is no; traditionally wines are only made with grapes.

So how can a wine that’s made with grapes taste like melons or strawberries or even kiwis? Wine X Magazine has written a great article which provides a perfect answer to this question. They explain that “a wine’s flavour, character and aroma are locked up in the grape, and it’s the yeast (through fermentation) that activates — unlocks — these characteristics.”

In other words grapes contain the same natural chemical compounds found in fruits and other foods e.g. butter. Fermentation, or other parts of the wine making process, provokes a chain reaction which unlocks these compounds, allowing us to smell and taste the same flavours and aromas found in fruits and other foods in the finished product.

Flavour controls

This allows wine makers to control the flavour of the finished product throughout various stages of the production process. Here are four vital areas of wine making, and how producers can use them to determine the flavour of the vintage:

  • Fermentation: Yeast is key for fermentation and different yeast strains can provoke different flavours in the finished wine. For example one yeast may create tropical fruit flavours in Chardonnay, but another may create more citrusy ones.


  • Secondary fermentation: Also called lactic fermentation, this process creates butter/butterscotch flavours. Basically if a wine maker places their product through secondary fermentation they convert tart acid to a softer acid that creates a by-product called diacetyl, lending the wine a few buttery notes.


  • Lees contact: After yeast has been used in fermentation its cells die, since their food source has been used to ferment the grape juice. This leaves a by-product called lees, and if you leave lees in a white wine for a long time, it can produce pastry-esque flavours. This is a particularly common occurrence in sparkling wines that have been left to age for at least three years.


  • Oak aging: A lot of wines, as well as cognacs, are aged in oak barrels before they’re sold to the public. The age, type and toast level of an oak barrel can impart a range of flavours including clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, caramel, chocolate, vanilla and obviously, oak.

See for yourself

Therefore the wine making process unlocks characteristics in grapes which allows wine to taste like many fruits, as well as a host of other foods. If you want to see for yourself how this works, why don’t you buy Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 2007 from the Ideal Wine Company? As we wrote in our review of the product, this vintage boasts tantalising flavours of black cherries and cedar.

How to Act at a Wine Tasting

Heading to a wine tasting and don’t want to embarrass yourself? This week, Ideal Wine Company is here to help you, by telling you how to act at a wine tasting!

Wine is a Lifestyle.

As a provider of some of the finest vintages from around the world, the Ideal Wine Company recognises that wine is a lifestyle. It’s not just about buying a luxury vintage and quaffing it down by the fire on a cold winter’s night.

One of the main attractions to luxury vintages for some people is that wine is a social drink. It’s quite easy to stand around, discussing the currents events of the day, whilst nursing a glass a merlot in your hand. This is why drinkers of luxury bottles often can’t help themselves from arranging a wine tasting session or two.

Ideal Wine Company’s Five Rules You Need to follow at a Wine Tasting

Of course not everyone is a wine expert. Not everyone intrinsically knows how to act at a wine tasting. This is why the Ideal Wine Company has provided you with the five rules you need to follow, to ensure you don’t embarrass yourself at a wine tasting…

1)      Don’t Overindulge: At a wine tasting, you aren’t supposed to pour a big glass. You pour a small glass; literally so you just taste the wine. Over-pour and your fellow tasters will think you’re an alcoholic.

2)      Use the Spit Bucket: When you are tasting wine, the best way to do it is to sample the flavour then spit. Use the spit Bucket if one is provided, to show your fellow tasters you truly appreciate the taste. 

3)      Read Up on Current Events: People often chat at these events. People talk about what’s happening in the world. Make sure you read up on current events to keep up. 

4)      Read up on the Featured Wines: Wine tastings are for wine enthusiasts; you can bet everyone else will know about the wines they are tasting. Come armed with a little background knowledge so you too, can appreciate what you are drinking. 

5)      Make Sure You Relax: At the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Relax and enjoy yourself, and you’ll soon see that you’re the kind of person your fellow wine tasters want to talk to.

Please, just remember that a wine tasting is a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. Yes, it’s always wise to follow these rules, but they also act to make sure you appreciate what you are drinking. At the end of the day, that is why you’re there.