One of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll be offered on a hotel barge cruise in Alsace will be the opportunity to enjoy private wine tastings as we pass through the Route des Grand Vins.
Officially established in 1953, the Route des Grands Vins winds through the valleys in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains for some 170 kilometres. Stretching from Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south, a journey along the Route takes in over 1,000 wine producers.
Many vineyards and wineries along the Route des Grands Vins welcome visitors for tasting sessions. If you’re travelling through Alsace with us, you’ll have the chance to attend wine tastings during the onshore day trips.
To reassure the novice and to refresh the more experienced wine connoisseurs, we’ve put together some tips for tasting etiquette so that you get the most from your visits to these vineyards.
Wine tasting may seem a little intimidating to the average, casual drinker, but with a few pointers it is easy to learn the basics. You don’t need loads of expert knowledge to get started – all you need are your senses!
The very first thing you’ll need to do is give your wine a thorough visual once-over. Swirl and tilt the glass to catch the full range of a wine’s colour.
Alsace is a mainly white wine-producing region, so expect to find a lot of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris (with the occasional Pinot Noir for the red-loving crowd). With the white wines you’ll be looking for colour tones that are tawny, golden or yellowy-green. You should make sure it is clear and sparkling, not murky and dull.
Next, the smell test.
A few quick sniffs should tell you everything you need to know about a wine’s bouquet. Experienced connoisseurs might talk of grapefruit and musk, but focus on specific bouquet groups to get started. Is it fruity? Herbal? Flowery? From dry to sweet, fruity to herbal, you’ll find a spectrum of bouquets in Alsace.
Finally, the tasting: take a small sip (not a gulp) and let it circulate through your mouth. You may want to spit the wine out if you’re planning to taste many, but swallowing the wine is perfectly all right. In tasting, you should be able to pick up the same characteristics you identified in smelling the wine, but you will also be able to get a sense of the wine’s balance and complexity.
The Ultimate Test
Remember that the best measurement of a wine is whether you actually like it. Though your preferences may evolve with more tasting experience, the best wines are the ones you would actually want to taste again.
Along the Route des Grands Vins, you will have plenty of opportunities to sharpen your tasting skills. On a European Waterways hotel barge holiday, the vast and varied world of Alsatian wine is open to you in this stunning corner of the world.