Oakton WineShop and Bistro

2952A Chain Bridge Road

Oakton, VA 22124

(703) 255-5425

 OWS&B Where Harmony Lives

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  • Myles Cameron

Of Tasting Wine



Last week in the blog I wrote about tasting some wines that made me raise my head and take notice: notice of my current surroundings, notice of my focus at the time, most of all notice of what was in my glass.  I was able to take such notice because I had completed the simple task of raising my glass and sipping its contents.  There is nothing truly complicated about completing this action.  In reality it is rather mundane.  How many times a day do you take a drink?  I am not talking about just wine here.  Sipping water from a bottle or glass, soda from a can?  While I am writing this I am nursing the last of my morning coffee.  But in all of this consumption of liquids, and we do consume a fair amount of liquid each day, we are not really tasting the beverage in our hands and glasses.  We are simply drinking it.  It may seem like a trivial difference, one of little to no distinction, one that is small and unimportant.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing. 


The act of tasting wine is of vital importance to us at OWS&B.  We taste everything.  Every bottle we open before we serve it.  A day after we open it we taste it again, and again if the bottle makes it to a rare third day.  We taste for a million different reasons; because wine evolves after it is open much faster than when it is contained within a bottle, because some wines have a short shelf life, because things fade, because we are absolute fanatics about wine.  However, we taste wine most of all because we feel that not doing so is doing you, our friends and clients, a disservice.  What is the phrase? 


“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” – Anonymous


Well truer words.  You would not drink spoiled milk or soda without carbonation would you? How about salty water or tea that has been seeped too long?  No, of course not, you have a discerning palate.


Being acutely aware of this many wine retailers offer you a chance to sample small amounts of some wines prior to you buying them.  This, I believe is called a “wine tasting” or  “ine tasting,” it might be a soft ‘w,’ I’m not sure but apparently all you do is just sip little pours of wine for free.  It’s supposed to be wild.  Now we at OWS&B try to make this process easier for you as we taste every wine before we even bring it into the store but our tastes are not the same as yours.  Tastes are subjective so what one of us likes you may love or hate.  However, lucky for you dear reader, we offer a free tasting on a few select wines each Saturday from 12-4 here at the bistro.  Oh and there is special pricing on the wines being featured on the tasting table, so what’s not to love?  I mean, you would not buy a car without a test drive right?  Nor would you buy a pair a jeans without trying them on (well I would, but my wife assures me that this is not the norm).  So come on in and see what we have been delighted by this past week!


Here are a few helpful hints you before you come in on Saturday.


No Gum before you taste, gum can mess with how you taste as most gum has a strong taste and flavor meant to alter your breath.  This makes tasting wine difficult.

This leads me to perhaps the most important thing to remember when tasting wine, do not, I mean DO NOT, brush your teeth with toothpaste for at least 4 hours prior to wanting to taste wine.  Toothpaste will ruin any attempt that you may have to discern flavors and nuance in any and all wine.  Avoid at all costs.

Try and avoid astringent foods and drinks before you taste wine, foods with a heavy garlic component or that are super bitter like espresso or sour like grapefruit juice.  These foods and drinks can ruin your ability to taste wine.


Finally, try and keep an open mind about what you are tasting.  You may think that you only like red wines and we are pouring some off the beaten path white wines that may just surprise you, but if you go into the tasting with a mindset that you will hate these wines you will have a harder time finding something you like or find redeeming.


We will see you Saturday.

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