Sommelier: A wine expert. A sommelier is a trained professional that specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairings. With a deep knowledge in the art of wine, they often complete the perfect meal by recommending wines based on region and grape variety. While not all of us can be certified sommeliers, we can test the waters (or should I say wines?) by using the Five S’s of wine: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip and Savor. JJ’s Wine Bar, located in Downtown Franklin, provides not only the perfect atmosphere to put these tips to the test but also the ideal food menu to try out your new skill set!
The color of wine tells a lot of secrets. The difference in a wine’s color has to do with how extracted its flavors are. The more extracted the wine, the deeper the tone. The same goes for the age of the wine. You can best judge a wine’s color when placed against a white background. After considering color, you will want to look at the opacity. The opacity will tell you what type of grape was used in creating it as well as the age of the wine. An opaque color may also indicate if it is a filtered wine. Customarily, color saturation corresponds with flavor intensity.
TIP: White wine will gain color with age, while red wine will lose its color.
When wine is swirled in its glass, the intention is to aerate (or introduce air) to allow oxygen to “open it up”. Not only does this help the wine to express its full range of aromas and flavors but it also indicates viscosity; the slower the roll, the higher the alcohol content.
TIP: Beginners often start out by keeping the base of the wine glass on the table and gently swirling in a clockwise motion. Due to sweeter wines being denser, it will leave a thicker streak (known as a leg or tear) down the side of the glass.
The previous step of swirling is essential to the step of smelling. Since our swirl allowed the wine to aerate and open up those beautiful aromas, the time has come to determine “nose” of our wine. “On the nose” is one of the most common wine terms used in our society. Essentially, it is what it sounds like: the smell of a wine. Do not be bashful with this important step. Go ahead and really get your nose in your glass, take a deep breath and analyze what you smell. Is it fruity? Is it earthy? Is it crisp? Is it warmer? Continue to swirl the glass to break down your findings even further. There really are no wrong answers to the smell step of the five S’s as it is very subjective. A wine’s smell can help determine the flavor profile but it can also help determine if the wine bottle has been preserved properly.
TIP: The aroma step of the process is where those magnificent, eccentric terms like “Zesty” “Floral” and “Herbaceous” come from.
The anticipated moment is here! By now, you will have a general idea of what to expect your wine to taste like. As in the previous steps, there is a proper way to sip your wine. Take a slightly larger-than-usual sip and hold in your mouth for 3-5 seconds. Allow it to coat the surface of your mouth. Swish it around in your mouth a little so the wine hits all parts of your tongue. Try to gauge the acidity, sweetness and the bitterness to start. Notice the texture: does it shoot straight down your tongue or does it have a round, mouth-coating texture? This is the stage you look for primary characteristics (fruit, floral and spice), secondary characteristics (oak and fermentation-related flavors) and tertiary character (those that result from bottle aging, like mushroom, tobacco and nuttiness), depending on the age of the wine.
TIP: Relax and let it be fun! You do not need to make all of the awkward and uncomfortable sounds that a professional would. No need to gulp, suck in air and make a large scene. This should be enjoyable after all!
The final “S” is where you want to savor the wine. This is also an important step that helps to indicate the quality of a wine and is known as the finish. The finish is where you savor the final essence of the wine. You look for a balance in fruit, acidity, texture and tannin. You also look for the length of time the flavors stay on your palette. Does it have a short finish (not ideal) or does it have a long finish (what we’re looking for)? Most importantly, do you want another sip? This is the true indicator of a good wine.
All of the above are valuable steps to perform a proper wine tasting. Remember though, that at the end of the day the most important thing about wine is what you like.
Try out your new knowledge at JJ’s Wine Bar!
JJ’s Wine Bar has an impressive wine menu with a variety of wines to fit any budget. We have taken a moment to prepare some wine and food pairings you should try at JJ’s Wine Bar the next time you visit:
Chardonnay – Kim Crawford, New Zealand
Pairs well with the Chicken Salad-Salad
Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley King Estate, Willamette Valley, OR
Pairs well with the traditional Charcuterie Board
Cabernet Sauvignon – Silver Oak, Alexander Valley, CA
Paris well with Prosciutto & Gouda Flatbread
“A bottle of wine contains more knowledge about a region of the world than any book.” – Michael Cox
JJs Wine Bar, located at 206 E Main St in downtown Franklin, is open for dine-in and wine dispensing by the pour, as well as carryout or by-the-bottle purchases. We’re always happy to guide you along your wonderful journey of delectable wines! Come by or call us at 615-942-5033.