Indiana Uplands Wine Trail's Guide to At-Home Wine Tasting

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Whether you prefer to visit our wineries in person to stock up, or instead have bottles shipped directly to your door, home wine tasting is a fun (and safe) way to explore the wide variety along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started. So grab your corkscrew, and settle in. There are no rules. Explore and have fun with it!

Cheers!


What You Need To Get Started:

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

  • Wine tasting can be done solo, but since you are opening up several bottles at once, its nice to have at least one other to share the fun with. On your own? Consider investing in a wine preservation system that reseals your bottles and extends the life of the wine.

WINE (of course!)

  • We suggest 3-5 different bottles of wine per tasting for a nice variety and a chance to really compare. You can center your tasting around any number of themes or styles, and stepping outside your comfort zone will help you learn more about your own likes and dislikes.

WINE GLASSES

  • Preferably one glass per person, per wine so you can taste all wines side by side to notice the differences and similarities. A classic, tulip-shaped glass is best here, with enough room to swirl the wine and place your nose in the opening to smell the aromas. No need to go out and invest in tiny tasting glasses.

WATER AND SPIT BUCKET

  • Water for rinsing your glass and your mouth. Especially important if you are short on the glassware, but also nice to rinse your mouth out and keep your palate fresh. A spit bucket is not necessary, but depending on the amount of wines and people, you might not want to finish each taste. At least the first time around!

CRACKERS AND SNACKS

  • Your tastebuds will get a workout, think of crackers as a way to give your mouth a break between wines- bread will work too. Beyond that, look for small bites that will go well with wine, but not be so intense in flavors as to overwhelm. Think creamy cheeses, nuts, dried fruits, etc...and keep the spicy summer sausage for your next dinner party instead.

PEN AND PAPER

  • For writing down your thoughts as you taste, so you can compare later. Come up with a fun rating system.

Tasting Tips:

Taste groups of wines by a theme or category. Options include:

  • Type of grape - grab a few bottles of wine made with the same kind of grapes -for example, Chambourcin, Catawba or Traminette.  You will really begin to notice varietal characteristics (the unique features of a grape) when you taste the same grape made by different wineries or grown in different vineyards.
  • Wine Style - for example, Roses, Reds, Whites, blends, or even fruit wines. This allows you to really see winemaking in action. Use of barrels for age and flavor, different fermentation techniques, and more!
  • Vintage comparison - comparing the same wine (ideally from the same winery) over multiple harvest years, also known as a "vertical flight". This allows you to really see the difference a growing season can make.

Remember to always taste wines from DRY TO SWEET. As sugar gets on your tongue, it will influence the wines you taste afterwards, especially if you try to go back and taste drier wines.

Plan on pouring around 1 to 3 oz of each wine per person, depending on how many wines you have. Remember that an average glass of wine in a restaurant is 5 to 6 oz, so make sure you know how much you want to consume in total (see "spit bucket" from earlier). 

When you are ready to taste, consider the 5 S's of Wine Tasting:

  • See - notice the color of the wine, and how light or dark it looks. Can indicate the type of grape or winemaking techniques.
  • Swirl - spin the wine inside the glass to coat the sides and release aromas
  • Smell - really get your nose in there! What do you notice about the aromas? Fruits, earth characteristics like wood, soil, or stone. Lots of possibilities!
  • Sip - take that first taste and see how it feels on the palate. Heavy or light? Dry or sweet? Flavors that match the aromas?
  • Savor - swallow the wine and look for lingering characteristics. Heat from alcohol, or tannins from dry reds for instance.

Expert suggestions:

  • Once you get the hang of it, you can try things such as:
    • keeping a tasting journal to take notes for future comparison
    • blind tasting and guessing varietals without seeing the label
    • pairing food or cheeses with each of the wines

Favorite Indiana Uplands Wine Tasting Ideas:

  • Traminette - our state's signature varietal
  • Chambourcin - grown by many of our wineries, and used to produce a wide variety of styles. Dry reds, roses, and dessert wines to name a few.
  • Catawba - native, North American varietal that is a favorite of sweet wine drinkers and ripens really well in the Indiana Uplands
  • Blackberry wines - a favorite fruit wine for a non-traditional choice
  • Dessert wines - bring out the dark chocolate and sweet snacks, a fun mix of styles across our wineries. Late harvest, ice wines, ports, and more....

The fun and learning are endless, so ship a few different bottles of your favorite Indiana Uplands wines to your door and get started on your tasting adventure! You’ll be an expert in no time!