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This is for all those who want to taste wine like a pro, develop their palate, and become refined experts.
After having had the pleasure of meeting up with Gaston Hochar in his winery Chateau Musar, we learned many tips on how to taste and evaluate a glass of wine like a specialist.
Learning how to do the latter can greatly enhance one’s appreciation and understanding of the beverage. Tasting wine is not just about identifying the flavors, but also about understanding the wine’s structure, balance, and overall quality. This knowledge can help you identify wines that you enjoy and make better-informed wine purchasing decisions.
It can also make social situations, such as dining at a restaurant, more enjoyable as you will be able to confidently order and appreciate the wines being served.
For those who work in the wine industry, understanding how to taste wine and evaluate it like an expert is essential for success. This knowledge can be used to create, market, and sell wine. It can also be used to provide professional recommendations, pairing suggestions, and wine education to others. Overall, mastering how to taste wine correctly is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to fully appreciate and understand its beauty along with its complexities.
Mr Hochar, owner and General Manager of Chateau Musar, walked us through the proper steps of tasting wine. According to him, having the ability to do it like a pro requires both knowledge and technique; things he has accumulated with years of experience. Here is the walk through to follow:
To start off, you must examine the wine’s appearance, noting the color and clarity. The color can indicate the wine’s age and variety, while the clarity can indicate if it has been filtered or if it has any sediment.
Firstly, look down into the glass to be able to view the wine’s entire color. Then, tilt your glass so that the wine rolls towards the rim providing you with more clues regarding its weight and age.
Next, you should give the wine a swirl (in a swift motion) to aerate it and release its aromas. Take a moment to take in the wine’s nose, or its bouquet, noting any primary and secondary aromas such as fruit, floral, and earthy scents.
Once you have a good sense of the wine’s aroma, take a sip and let it linger in your mouth to fully experience the taste, texture, and finish. By letting the wine cover all parts of your mouth, prior to swallowing it, you avoid missing any key element. Here, you should be paying attention to the wine’s acidity, tannins, and alcohol level, as well as any flavors or impressions you may have. The trick while you finally give it a taste is to inhale while doing so, in order to have a better encounter and understanding of the beverage in question.
Overall, the key to tasting wine like an expert is to approach it with an open mind, take your time, and use your senses to fully appreciate the complexity of the wine.
Following these steps will enable you to discern what you like, dislike, or appreciate in your wine. Taking your time to fully understand and recognize the components of each wine will help you articulate your feelings towards a certain blend and help you ultimately find your preferred type of wine.
Make sure to check out our Instagram for the full video of Mr Hochar demonstrating the step by step on how to do it!
- Body (how the drink feels inside your mouth)
While the Lebanese people are becoming more and more international, and our Diaspora is living in the four corners of the world, one of the things that everyone always takes pride in is the country’s heritage and its beautiful identity.
Lebanon is known for its culture whether it be in relation to its music, its art, its food or its delicious wines for instance. There are a variety of different reds, whites and rosés harvested in the gorgeous landscapes surrounding the country. Many of the latter hold European hints to their making and taste but the Obeidy wine made by Château St Thomas is unique in its composition.
This bottle is made using what once used to be considered unsuitable for wine-making; the Obeidy grape. The owners of Château St Thomas decided to send it to DNA testing and profiling where it was revealed that it is authentically 100% Lebanese. After experimentation, the vineyard excelled in the making of Obeidy wine and have launched it in the market with the efforts of reviving the legendary grape of Lebanon.
This dry white wine comes from the Bekaa Valley contains floral notes and sweet spices, perfect for all who enjoy citrus notes. This mix is that of a divine concoction that will add more life to your bar at home and make you appreciate Lebanese wine at its finest.
Brunch is the best excuse to start drinking early in the AM and what other than a good mimosa to pair with your food?
We’re here to make sure you host your best brunch yet with our mimosa recipe that will have you and your guests reaching for the carafe all afternoon.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 chilled bottle of your favorite dry sparkling wine
- 3 cups chilled orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
And that’s it; an easy and quick make for a delicious drink that is guaranteed to upscale your eggs benedict, your avocado toast and honestly… your overall day.
Interesting show. Several good surprises, some of which can even be called amazing. Overall Lebanese wine quality still on an upward trend.
Lebanese Wine discovery:
Chateau Marsyas red 2012: Amazing. Elegant and rich, balanced and fault-free. A bordelaise structure with no overextraction, no overoaking. The star of the classic red show. Buy Chateau Marsyas red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_marsyas_red_2012_red
Sept Syrah 2016: Wooowww. An attack overwhelmed by velvety and super elegant tannins clearly engulfing and totally covering the structure with a transparent veil of lace; after having enjoyed crossing this golden gate, one discovers a beautiful array of pastel and oil colours with not the slightest clash in site. Akin to the feeling of Colombus discovering the American continent. Yet still very young, but with the promise of extreme greatness. Biodynamic and selective parcel vinification. A marvelously memorable experience. Batroun heights. Buy Sept Syrah 2016 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_syrah_de_nehla_2016
Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir 2015: totally unexpected. Is this wine or some sort of magic elixir. Never has any Cinsault offered this fine elegance with a touch of undescribable lightness combined with a fruitiness you'd think came from a newfruit of paradise. When I say unexpected i mean total departure from any previous conception of wine flavour profile. Is this a wine or a magic brew? Purists could complain about its extreme lightness combined with an unwinelike slight fruity sucrosity; they'd have nothing to compare it with; they would expect a layer of heaviness, a sting of bitterness, something to chew on. But no, nothing of this in this wine light and pleasant enough for any time of day, any occasion, any need to surprise one's senses. West Bekaa grapes. Buy Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir online 2015 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/cinsault_du_soir_2015
Sept Obeideh: excellent. Feels like a concentrated thin straight line where you have to search but will be amazed by the mix of flavours you find within the rich and varied structure. It is flexible enough to pair well with foods of both higher or lower richness. Buy Sept Obeideh online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_obeideh_2016
Other very good discoveries: (in no particular order)
Syrah du Liban 2012: excellent, totally classic with an interesting syrah typicity. An unmistakably great lebanese red wine. Bravo Faouzi Issa, Domaine des Tourelles. Even better than the 2006 star. Central Bekaa. Buy Syrah du Liban 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/syrah_du_liban_2012_red
Qanafar red 2012: great follow thru after the very successful 2011. Definitely one of the great lebanese bordelais. Slight sucrosity but great structure. Blanc de Qanafar has improved and is vey good. The second red, Paradis has made a huge upwards leap. Buy Chateau Qanafar red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_qanafar_2012_red
Muse rose 2016: excellent rose made from syrah monocepage. Elegance, faultless and no heavy acidity. Pity their white and reds are no way near the rose. Buy Muse rose 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/muse_le_rose
Tourba Petit Verdot red 2014: interesting and surprising as a monocepage; this varietal is normally added in very small proportion (typically 5%) to enrich Bordeaux style blends. Here, on its own its not bad at all. Buy Latourba Petit Verdot red 2014 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/latourba_petit_verdot
Marsyas B-Qa: amazing second wine in both red and white. You don't feel it's a second wine with the red easily being the best at that price level. Buy Marsyas B-Qa online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/b_qa_de_marsyas_2013_red
Musar Jeune: in earlier years I had thought of this line as a wasted attempt at range extension. Not any more. It is now an excellent value line in all of the white, rose and red. A very decent entry level range that will not depreciate the Chateau Musar image. Bravo. Buy Musar Jeune online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/musar_jeune_white https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-musar
Bybline red: i could not avoid being attracted this year again by the amazing Musar-style Bybline. The same varietal blend Cabernet, Carignan, Cinsault planted in Wata Joz, kesrouan. It is a Musar near lookalike but with a bit less volatile acidity and brett effect. Those who appreciate the Musar style would enjoy it, particularly at half the price. Amazed it lasted 11 years. Buy Chateau Bybline online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-bybline;
Karam rose: not bad at all. Faultless and interesting with any food. Buy Karam Rose online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/arc_en_ciel_2015_rose
Lebanese wines are definitely improving. There are much more quality wines than a few years ago. But the most interesting aspect is that new styles are appearing and this new variety of taste profiles and experiences is very pleasant. This novelty will not please everybody, particularly those fixated on Bordeaux style, but this extension will help attract a larger number of fans. I think it is great and the industry is going in the right direction.
Don't be surprised that I hadn't mentioned wines of Ksara, Kefraya or Ixsir . Not because I didnt like them, but because they were not offering their best at Vinifest: the two great Kefraya efforts are Chateau 2012 and the amazing Comte de M 2012, both of which were not offered; their entry level Breteche 2015 is not bad at all, but they seemed more interested in selling the label design than the wine experience. Ksara' s Souverain and Troisieme Millenaire seemed to be the same ones offered last year; their Chateau is more than decent but was not given enough boost. At Ixsir I eagerly looked for the fantastic EL 2012, but only the 2013 was on offer, slightly ahead of its top form. A brand that showed excellent follow-on to the philosophy of quality is definitely Chateau Qanafar where all the wines, without any exception, are improving vintage after vintage.
PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THESE ARE THE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE WRITER, BASED ON HIS OWN SUBJECTIVE TASTE. I DONT MEAN TO DENIGRATE ANY WINERY OR OVERAPPRECIATE ANY OTHER.
The Lebanese winemaking industry has been relatively active in the recent past, with a current count exceeding 40 wineries compared to just 5 in the early 1990s, and a current annual production of more than 8 million bottles. There’s also been an increased interest in wine culture in Lebanon as wineries have been reporting greater numbers of visitors.
Most Lebanon’s wineries are considered small-to-medium-sized and are known to place great emphasis on the quality of wine, thereby resulting in somewhat conservative quantities being produced.
In realizing that potential, 209 was created as an opportunity to further advance the awareness and consumption of Lebanese wine. As an innovative concept, 209 harnesses the power of modern-day connectivity by creating an omnichannel platform that generates remarkable exposure for Lebanese wines, to the Lebanese public and beyond, said Zafer Chaoui, President of Union Vinicole du Liban (UVL), whose objective is to consolidate and build on Lebanon’s image as a wine producing country by highlighting its proud history and promoting its potential.”
Wine production in Lebanon did take several hits in the past, but has managed to withstand and overcome those difficulties. Today it is poised to enjoy a bright future. It is only through investing in the winemaking sector in Lebanon that we will be able to make Lebanon a bigger contender on the international wine-producing scene.