The European Waterways Guide to Wine Tasting

During a cruise on one of our hotel barges, you will have the chance to sample several of the finest wines we have to offer. Wine tasting can feel a little overwhelming if you haven’t much experience, but fortunately, the European Waterways Guide to Wine Tasting is here to break the process down into four sip-size steps.

Wines differ from each other in colour, texture, strength, “body,” smell and taste. When you are tasting wine, these six things should all be considered. Contrary to popular belief, the ability to discern flavours is not located in the mouth. We smell tastes, rather than sampling them with our tongues and palates. In reality, the taste buds in our mouths can only distinguish flavours that are sour, sweet, bitter and salty. Did you know that our flavour-sensitive nerve cells are actually at the top of the nose?

Famous Rhône Valley wine

Wine Tasting in Four Steps

1. Look

Angle your glass over a white background and inspect the colour, intensity and hue at the rim of the glass. Wines should be transparent and bright. A wine’s colour, and the depth of that colour, indicates its age, with wines becoming paler as they get older. The way that the liquid flows within the glass reveals a wine’s richness.

Look out for cloudiness, which can reveal a fault. Sediment in red wine is normal, though it should be left to settle before you inspect it.

Wine experts - river Garonne cruises

2. Smell

Hold your glass under your nose and inhale through your nostrils the first overall scent, known as the “nose”. There are hundreds of aroma compounds found in wine and the best way to identify them is to detect distinctive fragrances. Swirl the glass to oxidise the liquid, taking slow, delicate inhalations. Switch between smelling and pausing, giving yourself time to pick out each aroma.

Expert wine specialists serve a selection of hand-picked wines onboard

3. Taste

Take a good mouthful of wine and move it around your entire mouth. Once you have swallowed the wine, the aftertaste, known as the finish, should provide you with a lingering flavour profile. Great wines have a lasting flavour that remains after swallowing. If you’re at an advanced level of wine-tasting, try to identify the tannins, acidity and general structure of the wine to give a sense of overall balance.

Next, have a medium-sized sip and repeat the process. Swallow or spit out the sample. Take a slow breath through your mouth and exhale through your nose to see if you can sense any different flavours.

4. Think

Develop your palate by trying more wines! No one is born a wine connoisseur, so experiencing more wines helps to build your knowledge base. The more wines you can try, the more you will be able to distinguish the flavours you like. One way to actively think about the wines you are tasting is to note down your thoughts when sampling them and keep a record.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even rate your wines! Wine ratings were first popularised in the 1980s when Rober Parker introduced his 100 point system. Today, there are several rating scales to choose from including a 5-star system, the 100-point scale and a 20-point scale.

Selection of Burgundy Wine and Bordeaux Wine

Barge Cruises with Wine-Tasting Experiences

Why not improve your wine tasting skills by dabbling in some comparative tasting on our barge cruises? Guests can sample wines on all our cruises and experience specialty tastings in regions like Burgundy and Venice.

If you already feel that you are a seasoned wine-taster, then why not bring some friends and charter a whole barge for a wine-themed cruise? There are so many cruises to choose from. If you are unsure of where to start, then  order a brochure, or speak to our sales team.

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