Winning at Wine Tasting

Wine clubs and competitive wine tasting

Wine tasting in St. Helena, CA

Not everyone realizes that wine tasting is actually a competitive sport. This year, the world was surprised when a Chinese team achieved a perfect score, identifying twelve French wines by taste alone. The team described wine tasting as “fifty percent knowledge and fifty percent luck.” If you’d like to become an expert in the art of wine tasting, one way is to join a wine club and go to wine tastings. Learn to recognize the different notes in the aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and how they differ from other wines.

There’s an art to tasting wine. Hold the glass by the stem or the base, so your hand doesn’t heat the wine too much. Look at the wine against a white background to see its color and clarity. Swirl it very carefully to judge the thickness of the liquid and bring out the aroma. When you smell the wine, try to think of everything the smell reminds you of — not just fruit, but flowers, cigar box, smoke, even leather or crushed stone. When you taste it, notice the texture and the feel in the mouth, not just the taste. Once you’ve swallowed it, notice the finish (which in a lesser beverage would be called the aftertaste).

Best wine tasting at a vineyard near St. Helena, CA

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where visitors can sample current releases and library wines and learn about the process of making and storing the wine. One tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983.

The 2010 Signature Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, a deep purple wine with a slight red edge that comes from the best two barrels of the vintage, has an aroma worth a full paragraph of description. It begins with a strong cassis, with streaks of blackberry, plum, blueberry and red berries and highlights of crushed roses, blue flowers and anise. The oak adds elements of smoke and tar to the bouquet. The palate of the ’10 Signature is similar to the aroma, with the taste of black, blue and red fruits, licorice, anise, tobacco, smoke, rosehips, and violets. This is a wine that deserves to be kept and allowed to age, and is a showpiece for the skill of the Anderson’s Conn Valley winemaking team. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Join their wine club and order some of their wines today.