Your Guide to Wine Tasting in Cyprus (Part 3) | George Kassianos



The Guide to Wine Tasting in Cyprus (Part 3)

Learn How to Taste Wine in 4 Steps with George Kassianos

Wine Tasting CyprusIn Part 1 of this series of Wine Tasting articles by George Kassianos, we looked at the overall process of wine tasting for beginners. Later, in Part 2, we looked at how to choose the right wine glass and scrutinize the wine to learn more about it. We have looked at wine, swirled the glass and appreciated its aromas and bouquet. Now, the adventure continues with the process of actually tasting our wine, the best part.


The very act of tasting is a combination of smells and flavours. Take a sip and feel the wine in your mouth; different parts of our tongue are designed to taste different things, which varies from person to person. There are five primary sensations. We usually detect Sweetness from the tip of our tongue. Sourness, which is a result of the acidity in wine, can be felt on the tongue’s inner sides. Saltiness, which is a rare taste sensation in wine, is detected from the outer sides. Bitterness is usually caused by the tannins in red wines and alcohol in general and can be felt at the back of the tongue. Finally, Umami (the essence of deliciousness), the fifth sense, corresponds to the flavours of glutamate at the centre of the tongue.

Practice makes perfect and is certainly the most effective way to map out the taste zones on your tongue. For the purpose of wine tasting, start by tasting sugar for sweetness, freshly squeezed lemon juice for sourness, salt for saltiness, freshly brewed black tea for bitterness, and the best way to understand the effect of tannins and umami, is to chew cherry tomatoes to feel the sensation after eating them. For each one, make notes on where you are the most sensitive to the taste, and by doing it this way, you will create a map of your tongue!

Acidity gives the wine freshness and a crispy sense. If a wine is low in acidity, it usually tastes flat and sour. The intensity of the fruit depends on the variety, growing conditions and winemaking techniques. The tannin in wines is essential and is most apparent in red wines. You taste the bitterness and astringency; tannins are usually classified as dry, hard or soft.

Sweetness can come from the fructose and the amount of residual sugar left from the fermented grape. Based on the amount of residual sugar, wines are classified as dry, medium-dry or off-dry, medium-sweet or sweet.  Once you swallow, you sense the finish or aftertaste. If the finish is more defined, then we are talking about quality wine. It will linger on your palate for some time, reflecting its flavours.


Back to our adventure of tasting wine! Take a sip of wine in your mouth and aerate it, by sucking it, as if you are pulling the wine through a straw. Maybe you should avoid doing this in a restaurant situation unless you are willing to simply ignore the odd stares from those around you. Now circulate it evenly throughout your mouth, therefore increasing the temperature to release the volatile aromas.

These will travel through the retro-nasal olfaction and then to the smell and emotion memory part of our brain, through the olfactory bulb. Just like when we smell the wine, you will encounter a wide range of fruit, flowers, herbs, earth, mineral, and wood aromas. In tasting, we call these flavours, instead of aromas. 


Our taste buds determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved and complete. There should always be a balance between the flavours. If we taste a wine and it is too sour or too sweet, too astringent or too hot due to the alcohol, too bitter or too flabby, then the wine is not balanced. If younger wines are imbalanced, they will probably not age well.  If older wines are imbalanced, they have passed their prime and completely gone. Good winemaking is all about making harmonious wines, where all the flavours are seamless and well-integrated. None of the individual components should stick out.  


To detect complexity, you really need to have some experience in the art of wine tasting. Wine novices will easily detect the primary, simple flavours, like jammy fruits or the secondary aroma of vanilla from oak ageing. This is due to these flavours being familiar, positive, likeable and crowd-pleasers. Wine complexity is like a good painting; the more you look at it, the more there is to see. Complex wines change as you taste them, and these complexities, in older wines, evolve into the realm of the sublime. Take note of the flavours and how long they linger after you swallow. This is how you appreciate wine overall.  Complex wines seem to dance in your mouth, therefore, do not move too quickly onto the next sip; let the first finish its dance.

Complete wines offer a great deal of pleasure! The definition of a complete wine is when it is balanced, harmonious, complex and evolved with a lingering, satisfying finish.

Finally, it is advisable to write your own complete tasting notes for both the wines you like and dislike. This will help you understand, and further appreciate, the wine you are tasting, and soon you will be able to choose your own preferred wine, according to your palate. Part 4 of this series of Wine Tasting articles is coming soon and will teach us ‘How to Tell if a Wine is Corked’.

Now, you may have the second sip!

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2


George Kassianos is the President of the Cyprus Sommeliers Association. He has also recently been appointed the Contest and General Assembly Liaison Officer by the International Sommeliers Association (ASI), which will take him all over the world to attend international wine events and competitions. He writes for many publications, including Cyprus in Style Magazine and the weekly wine column of the Sunday Cyprus Mail. He is a wine and hotel educator and presenter, and holds regular wine events across Cyprus. He was appointed by the Government to be a member of the Wine Expert Committee, which certifies PDO wines and acts as an advisory board to the wine and spirits industry. Read an Exclusive Interview with George Kassianos and learn more about George and wine tasting in Cyprus.

Published by Cyprus in Style Magazine May 2021 | #InStyleBusinessNetwork | #InStyleWineNetwork | Wine Tasting Cyprus

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