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I could never become a complete wine snob; whilst the guy with the large red nose and a wife who looks as though she has been drinking vinegar all her life is muttering about "a presumptuous little wine,Verging on the precocious" I'm usually wondering if it got contaminated with some dishwashing liquid and whether or not it will have an unpleasant effect on my digestion the following morning. Furthermore, how anyone can pay £250 for a bottle of wine when there are pretty decent ones available at Tesco's at three bottles for a tenner is beyond me. However, I digress: there is definitely a great deal of pleasure to be gained from wine tasting and although we all have our own opinions about what makes the difference between a palatable plonk and a great viticultural masterpiece there are a certain number of techniques that can make it far more easily to differentiate between the two.
The first fact to consider is that one of the most important senses we have is that of taste, and our tastebuds are affected by whatever we eat or drink which means that even the most perfect dry white wine will taste like Domestos if we drink it after having a particularly sugary dessert so the most important way to approach a wine tasting is to ensure that the palate is clean. This means no hot curries or well hung pheasant beforehand; some people prefer to rinse their mouths out with water but this is not always possible and means that you either end up swallowing more of it than is good for you or spitting it out, which can be distasteful to other people and after a while your tongue can become desensitised. I personally find that chewing a small piece of celery between tastings cleans my palate without unduly affecting the tastebuds. The wine should be poured into a clean and polished tulip shaped glass if it is a still wine, or a fluted glass if it is a sparkling one but in either case the glass should not be overfilled but up to about one third full; it should then be held up to the light for a critical examination of the colour and clarity. It is better to savour the aroma before tasting and to do this with a full glass will probably result in a messy experience and the ruination of your hosts carpet because you need to swirl the wine around quite vigorously in order to release the aroma. The glass should be tilted steeply towards you and then rather than noisily sniff the wine, which is considered to be extremely coarse in polite society and which could in any case because an embarrassing sneeze, you should breathe the aroma in gently, before tasting it and pronouncing your pearls of wisdom upon it. Before you get too carried away with poetic licence it is always best to remember that there may well be someone else in the room who understands a lot more about wine than you do, so it is best not to show off too much or you could run the risk of being gently but firmly humiliated. Cheers!