On Sunday, getting ready to open the winery tent for tasting, I rushed through laying out the brochures, setting up the till, and putting up the tasting card signs. The part I never rush through is opening the wine.
First, I selected the bottles. One of each, 5 varietals. After setting them on the bar top (in order, whites to the right), I removed the foils. If you are very careful with the cutter, you can get a perfect round of foil from the top of the bottle. If you miss a spot on your circle around the bottle, you have to tear the top of the foil off. It is impossible to tear the foils perfectly, so if you don't get the circle, you get an assortment of jagged edges. Once all the foils were removed, I started pulling the corks. Putting the corkscrew in each cork and feeling the firm sponginess of the cork in each bottle, one by one I pulled the corks. Reds first, so they could breathe for a few moments before I tasted them. As I pulled out the corks, I sniffed each cork in turn, delighting in the unique aroma of each of the wines.
Once the bottles were opened, it was time to taste. I love tasting wine, and on the week-ends we are open, I taste but do not drink the wine. I have developed my own technique after watching a couple of sommeliers do their own version. Starting with the first white, I poured between 1/2 and 1 ounce in the glass. The French Colombard has a sparkly look, held up to the light it looks crisp and clean. Next I sniffed, taking in the scent of the grapes and the wine, appreciating the slight citrus scent of the 'nose'. Swirling the wine in the glass increased the scent. The swirling, smelling and looking may not be totally necessary to check to make sure I haven't opened a 'bad' bottle, but it is an important part of the ritual for me. I love large glasses for wine tasting so that plenty of swirling and sniffing can be done.
The last step was tasting- I took the whole amount of wine in my mouth, a rather large sip, and held it in my mouth for a moment. This gave me the rush of the taste of the wine and a sense of the mouth feel. The French Colombard is the wine equivalent of a cool glass of lemonade on a warm day. After I held the wine in my mouth, I swished it around (sort of like mouthwash) then spit it out. After I spit it out, I enjoyed the lingering taste (the finish) in my mouth.
I repeated this for the other 4 wines I was pouring, enjoying each wine in turn without drinking any of it.
Ready for business.