Why do a Wine (or Beer) Tasting? To (duh) Taste It.

I'll admit it: I'm a wine lover. While I've never been accused of being a wine snob, I do have my preferences. I generally prefer red over white; dry over sweet; big shouldered reds over softer reds.

I don't have personal "wine rules," but, again, I do have preferences. I like crisp whites with oysters, not because there's a rule about it, but because I like the combination of the salty brine

of the oyster with the cutting action of a crisp white. Cold vodka's good with oysters, too, and for the same reason.

I like a medium bodied red with rich fish like salmon, but I think it overpowers delicate fish like sole.

And with a grilled steak: a big red. Whites just disappear, except champagne which somehow goes with everything. At least to my thinking.

And that's the point: those tastes and combinations of favors are all in my mind. Not that they're imagined, but they are focused. Mindful. A wine tasting is literally that: you're tasting the wine. I know, duh. But for a moment, when you look at the color of the wine, and you smell the wine, and you taste the wine, you zone out all the other stuff going on around you. 

You concentrate on the wine. And you'll notice things about the wine that you wouldn't if you were, say, outside on a summer's day, grilling burgers, tossing a frisbee with your son, and talking to your neighbor.

With that focus, that "wine-mindfulness," you might notice things in your glass you never noticed before. You might notice that the wine in your mouth has a feel to it that's different than water or beer. Or that this particular wine kinda reminds you somehow of chocolate or maybe smoke. Or that, hey, I bet a glass of this would taste great with the burgers I'll be grilling tomorrow.

The Non-Tasting Tasting

I do a tasting each and everyday. 

No, I don’t set up a table with six bottles of wine with hidden labels and do a blind tasting. But I do stop to really taste that first sip of wine. I pay attention to the color, the smell, the balance, the flavor, and the finish. That’s a non-tasting tasting.

Then I’ll also pay attention to how well the wine goes with the food I’m eating. Does it bring out the flavors of the food, or does it overpower them? Is it a good combination? I don’t make a big deal of it, its really just “does this wine taste good with this plate of food?”

If it is, I’ll try to remember it so I can do it again.

The same is true with beer. If you’re having steamed clams would a Belgian wheat beer be better with the clams than a dark stout? Why? And how do you know?

Why is this important to you as a restaurant operator? Because training staff is part of your job and giving your staff simple tools to better understand your product is a good way to improve your guests’ experience.

Learning about wines (and beers) can be intimidating to some. Make it simple by first teaching your staff to just focus a bit on the glass in front of them.

Wine tasting, beer tasting, chocolate tasting; they're all about the same thing: paying attention, being mindful, remembering.