Recognizing Bad Wine

When you go wine tasting, you don’t expect to like everything you try.  In most cases, that’s simply a matter of taste.  No winery is capable of appealing to everyone and no visitor is required to like everything he or she samples.  But here we’re not talking about a wine you just don’t enjoy.  It doesn’t happen often but in some rare cases, the wine that’s put in you glass is simply tainted.  Sadly, it happens with bottles that you bring home from the store, too.

Photo courtesy of Sentara Healthcare.

When it happens in a tasting room, it’s fairly important to recognize the flaw in what you’re tasting and report it to the server or the tasting room manager.  They want to know if there’s a problem and prevent shipment of wines that are simply bad.  Each of the following instances has happened to us at one time or another although, as we say, it’s been rare.

  • Brett This taint is caused by the presence of a yeast called Brettanomyces, or brett for short. It is a bit difficult to discuss, for two reasons.  The first is that brett is only described in euphemisms, most often as “barnyard smell”.  It’s easy to get the point: Brett makes wine smell and taste really bad.  But the other difficulty is that some people (including winemakers) actually like a little bit of that smell.  And who’s to say much is “a little bit”?  Brett seems more prevalent in Pinot Noir, especially French Burgundies and is much sought after by some connoisseurs.  But if brett shows up in your glass and it’s clearly too much, mention it to your server, but be prepared to be told, “It’s supposed to taste that way.”
  • Corked wine Winemakers are not responsible for corked wine, but cork manufacturers are. There are some fungi in cork trees which may appear when the bark of trees is turned into bottle closures.  It’s a chemical called TCA (2,4,6 – trichloroanisole) or simply TCA.  Once in contact with the wine, it imparts an aroma and taste that is often described as wet cardboard.  Once corked, the wine cannot recover, no matter how long it’s aged or left to air out.  We were once at a renowned winery that is famous for their attention to the science involved in winemaking.  After a tour, we were served in a pleasant tasting room.  And to our dismay, the first Chardonnay served was corked.  We immediately told the server, who was abashed to be sure and she quickly took the cork.  The manufacturer and batch were identified on it.  She took it to the lab people in the back so they could eliminate those corks from future production. That’s why servers should smell the wine before pouring from a new bottle, avoiding serving corked wine to visitors.  This one did not.
  • Wine fault There are some cases in which a wine has an off taste, such as rotten eggs, discarded motor oil or swamp. In our experience, this problem occurs rarely, most often following a below average harvest.  Some winemakers, rather than accepting the fact that they won’t get good wine that year, play with it, adding chemicals and using techniques to “boost’ the wine.  In a few cases, all that effort just makes a poor wine into a bad one.  We well remember tasting the poor 2011 vintage at one of Napa Valley’s most famous wineries.  One of the wines tasted…rotten.  Our server told us that the wine was still young and would improve with age.  We tried using a Clef du Vin to see if age would make a difference, but it didn’t.  We have since been back to that winery, but we’re always on our guard when we taste there.

Testing Your Glasses

Of course, you can always taste wine at home.  We do so every day, with our dinner.  But that’s not the same thing as a wine tasting.  A true wine tasting requires more than glasses and bottles.  It requires attention to the aromas and tastes that emanate from your glass, to the way the glass affects your senses, to the color and viscosity of the liquid and, most of all, to the pleasure one wine gives as differentiated from another.

So since you won’t be in a winery’s tasting room in the immediate future, here’s an idea for having a wine tasting experience in the comfort of your own home.  It will work at any time, and we have tried it out in the past.  It’s particularly fun in these difficult days.

Photo courtesy of Wine Cooler Direct.

  • Choose your glasses. If you’re like us, you probably have a lot of wine glasses.  Some are for everyday use, others for special occasions.  Maybe you have some for reds, others for whites and still others for Champagne.  And perhaps there a few of those little tasting glasses that you might use for dessert wines. For this experience, choose several of them.
  • Choose a wine you know you enjoy. This is no fun with plonk.  (Oh, that’s right, you don’t have any plonk in your cellar.)  No matter how fancy the glass, lousy wine is never going to taste good.  Now pour some of the chosen wine into each glass.
  • Experience the wines in each glass. This is the real effort you need to make.  Don’t just sniff and sip.  Think about what you’re doing and how the same wine differs from glass to glass.  Smell the wine in each glass before tasting any.  Really breathe them in.  Notice any differences?  Try to put those into words.  Now do the same after tasting each one.  Discuss with your significant other.  We have been surprised how much aroma we get from a tasting glass. This is because of the shape of the glass, which wraps around your nose while smelling the wine.
  • Decide which glass you prefer and use that glass for the rest of the bottle. You might be surprised and you might not agree.  That’s okay.  The whole reason for wine tasting is to suss out what you like and don’t like (or at least like less).  And it’s just fine if the two of you like different glasses.
  • You’ll get the maximum advantage of such a test if you can articulate why you prefer one glass over another. “It tastes better” doesn’t say much.  “I get an immediate impact right at the front of my tongue with this glass and the taste seems to linger longer.”  Now that’s saying something, and since everybody’s mouths and tastes are different, it’s not unusual to get different opinions.

Reidel is surely the world’s largest manufacturer of quality stemware (and some wares without stems).  We’re not sure how many different types of glasses they make.  We looked at their catalog and stopped counting when we realized that they make hundreds of different kinds.  No one, maybe not even the Reidel family, uses hundreds of glasses but if you do have several in your cabinet, it’s a lot of fun to test them with the same wine, one next to the others.

 

Wine Tasters Can Affect the Market

It is well known that wines in many parts of the world taste different than they did a generation ago.  Perhaps those with superior taste memories can testify to what wines used to smell and taste like, but all of us can be aware of certain changes. Taken overall, today’s red wines are more robust, more alcoholic, ready to drink at a younger age and more likely to come from a large corporation.  Whites are also more alcoholic and more full-bodied; in most of the world, they are quite likely to be either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, to the exclusion of other grapes.

How did this happen?

Some attribute this, with some justification, to the influence of wine critics, in particular Robert Parker.  Others see the broadening of the market to include younger, less experienced wine drinkers whose tastes run towards boldness rather than subtlety.  The trends may be attributable to better science and technology that make bigger, more alcoholic wines easier to produce.

A wine tasting focus group.  Photo courtesy of Find Focus Groups.

The simplest answer is that wine producing companies and their winemakers have simply responded to the demands of the wine-buying marketplace.  They are catering to the tastes of the people who are buying wine.  That makes sense, but how do they know?  They surely hold focus groups and monitor retail sales, but these are fairly blunt instruments.  Focus groups don’t necessarily tap into a meaningful cross-section of the people who buy most of the wine.  And sales figures reflect a lot more than taste.  Price, location, pretty labels and bottles, and the dominance of certain distributors also enter into the calculation.  How else to explain the past popularity of Two Buck Chuck?

A big factor in influencing the producers is the feedback that wineries receive from visitors in their tasting rooms, who are the more avid sector of the wine-drinking public.  Those of us who enjoy traveling to sample wines can offer direct and immediate feedback to the wineries.  They can see what people prefer, up close and personal.  Do most visitors smile at that unoaked Chardonnay or do they wince and pour it out?  Are the people who are enjoying a 16% alcohol Zinfandel just partiers out to get drunk or are they expressing pleasure at the fullness and depth of flavor that extra ripeness bring along with the alcohol?

There are things that we can do to affect the market when we go wine tasting.

  • Speak up. Let the server know what you like and why.  If you get a chance to chat with the winemaker or the tasting room manager, be vocal about your likes and dislikes.
  • Ask questions. If you have been familiar with a wine for a long period of time and it seems different to you now, it’s fair to ask if that’s the case and why it’s happens.  Not all tasting room employees are knowledgeable enough to answer these questions, but if you are just a little persistent, they’ll find someone who is.
  • Vote with your wallet. If you particularly like a certain wine, buy some right there in the winery.  If you really like the broad production of a winery, join their wine club.  The bean counters (or are they grape counters?) in the back office are acutely aware of who their locked-in buyers are and what they like.

Wine tasting voyagers have the power to influence what wineries produce.  So go ahead and use your power.  That’s what Power Tasting is all about.

Red vs. White

In certain European corners of Wine Country, there are laws that determine what sort of wine can be made there.  To use two examples near each other, in the Northern Rhône winemakers in Condrieu must only make white wine.  Down the road a piece in Cornas, they are restricted to red wine and only Syrah at that.  We Americans (and Australians and Sicilians, too) are more used to visiting wineries in our own country, where almost all make both red and white wines.

Now, we at Power Tasting have a preference for red wine.  We have been known to say, only half facetiously, that white wine is something to do with your hands at parties.  But when we enter a tasting room, we are almost invariably offered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay to begin our introduction to their wines.  Should we go ahead and sip something we’re less likely to enjoy or skip right ahead to the red wines?

Photo courtesy of Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits

There are good reasons for either decision.  Among those in favor of trying the whites are:

  • It’s worthwhile to be open-minded. It’s not as though we dislike white wines, we just don’t like them as much.  So if we try it, we might like it.  After all, we do eat dinners of fish and salad, especially in the summer.  It’s a good idea to develop our noses and taste buds for the wines that go with those meals, too.
  • You learn a lot about a winery by sampling the complete range of a winemaker’s art. If we are particularly enamored by, say, the Cabernet Sauvignon at a particular winery why not try the Sauvignon Blanc as well?  We’re pretty sure that the winemaker didn’t consider it an afterthought.  Care and attention go into all the wines.  No one goes to a concert and listen only to the violins, so why leave out a part of what a winery has to offer?

 

On the other hand…

  • Don’t waste your precious alcohol capacity. If we are going to be tasting all day, we are going to take in a lot of alcohol.  We have techniques to preserve sobriety (sharing, pouring out, sipping gently and others) but we – and everyone – need to be conscious of the risk and of our own level of intake.  So if we know at the outset that we won’t enjoy white wines as much as reds, there’s a good reason not to add to the load.
  • The idea is to enjoy yourself. We go wine tasting for many reasons and education is indeed one of them.  So if we do take some white wine, we are being broadminded and dutiful.  But are we having fun?  If the answer is “no”, then maybe it’s not worth doing.  It’s wine, for Pete’s sake, not spinach.

As can be seen, there’s no universally correct answer.  We tend to go both ways, often with both white and red wine early in the day and only red as the shadows get longer.  And of course if you favor white wines over reds, all the above applies in reverse.

Tasting Dessert Wines

Back in the day, there was a pop song called, “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”.  That singer wasn’t talking about an ultra-brut Champagne or a Chianti.  Today, most people who enjoy wine tasting are sipping table wines, not dessert wines.  Sweet wines have been around since Biblical times, but they aren’t the focus of winemaking in most parts of Wine Country.

Sauternes grapes, shriveled with botrytis.  Photo courtesy of Decanter.com.

Now there are some great sweet wines available.  The best known are from Sauternes in France and Portugal, with Château d’Yquem the best known in the former and a lot of great producers of the latter.  There is Passito from Sicily, or more properly from the tiny island of Pantelleria near Sicily.  In Valpolicella you can find Recioto, which is Amarone for which they stop fermentation while much of the sugars remain.  The Australians make some great ones and call them “stickies”.  And many Canadian and American wineries make fine dessert wines as well.  But with some notable exceptions, these sweet wines are the encore, not the main show.

Photo courtesy of Wine Enthusiast.

If you’re in most of Wine Country and you want to find out what the wineries have to offer for after-dinner sipping, there are some things you ought to do.

  • Find out if they have dessert wines. Few wineries list dessert wines on their tasting lists, but many have some below the bar.  When you’ve finished your allotted tastes, there’s nothing wrong with asking, “Do you make a sweet wine”.  Note that we don’t recommend asking if they have any available for tasting.  Many wineries only make dessert wines when conditions (weather, size of the crop, spread of a fungus) permit.  So they may make some but not have it for tasting.  By asking as we suggest, you stay on the right side of politeness.
  • Know what you’re tasting. Too many California wineries make what they call a Port, but really they’re just red dessert wines, never approaching what you can find in Portugal.  Whites include late harvest, ice wines (and fakes made by putting grapes in the freezer) and wines made from grapes affected by botrytis, a fungus also known as the Noble Rot.  These are listed in order of rarity and cost. They each have their own character, some but not all of which is apparent at a wine tasting.  The best ones change in color, sweetness, density and concentration as they age.  What you’re going to get in a tasting room are young wines, which may very well be your preference.  But remember that the ages of Ports and Madeiras are measured in decades.
  • Sip s-l-o-w-l-y. If a winery has a dessert wine available for tasting, you’re likely to get one or two thimblefuls, served in a tiny glass.  Take a small sip and let it spread in your mouth.  Think about the flavors: honey, peach, pear, citrus, honeysuckle and other delights.  Then, once your mouth has been primed, try another sip.  It may not seem the same, because you’ve passed the shock of the sugars on your tongue.  This is when the real character of a dessert wine becomes apparent.

Dessert wines are made from shriveled grapes, in which the juice is extremely concentrated.  Naturally, you don’t get a lot of wine from a bunch of scrawny grapes and that’s what makes dessert wines so expensive.  They are often sold in half-bottles, so maybe allow yourself a luxury purchase after you’ve tasted some that you liked.

How to Enjoy Wine Tasting in Napa Valley without Spending a Fortune

Wine tasting in Napa Valley has become quite expensive.  As reported elsewhere in this issue, it is common to spend $45 or more for tastings of the better wines in the better wineries.  For some people, this isn’t an issue, but there are many others who might be dissuaded from visiting America’s premier winemaking area because of the cost.  Here are some ideas for making a Napa Valley visit more affordable (although not cheap).

Photo courtesy of Vox.

  • There are still some top wineries that don’t charge an arm and a leg and there are still a few that are free (although who knows how much longer that will last). Foremost among these is Heitz Wine Cellars, a Napa Valley pioneer that has never charged for wine tasting.  Do a little homework before you go to find wineries within your budget.
  • Share a tasting. This is good advice on its own merits, since you can taste more wines without consuming more alcohol.  Of course, you need to travel with a fellow taster – your Significant Other is the best idea – and you may have to forego gulps in favor of sips.  But that’s what wine tasting is all about, anyway.
  • Join a wine club. All the wineries have clubs, which are a way for them to lock in customers.  In almost every instance, membership enables free wine tasting, often for a group, not just an individual.  Of course by being a club member you commit yourself to buying 2, 4 or 6 shipments of their wines per year and that can become costly.  Recently we have learned that some wineries allow you to communicate requests to welcome your friends as if they were members as well.  So if you have friends who are members of some clubs, ask them to call on your behalf.  If you are a member of some other wineries, you can make such requests reciprocal.
  • Buy a bottle. In many cases, wineries will waive tasting fees if you make a purchase.  This is a triple deal.  You get to taste for free, determine your favorite and take a bottle of that one home.
  • Taste wines on the less expensive menus. We do recommend tasting the reserve lists, but on occasion there are very nice wines to taste among the recent releases.  If you want to enjoy a particular winery for its architectural beauty or its views, it might be just fine to taste the regular wines and enjoy the winery.
  • B.Y.O.B. to a restaurant. There are many restaurants that will charge a corkage fee if you bring your wine.  And some don’t charge at all.  Even with the corkage fee, it is often cheaper to bring your own bottle than buy it at the restaurant.   Also, you’ll have a taste for the bottle you’ll buy for tonight’s dinner.
  • Splurge on just one special winery. There may be a Napa Valley wine that you particularly like.  Or one that is very famous and that you always wanted to try.  Yes, you’ll pay a lot to taste these wines but if you limit the number of such wineries, it will lower the economic pain.
  • Go wine tasting somewhere else. There are great wines in Sonoma County, Santa Barbara and the Central Coast.  You don’t have to be in St. Helena or Rutherford to have a very pleasant tasting experience.  As for us, we’ll be back to Napa Valley for sure, just not as often.

Wine tasting in Napa Valley has become quite expensive.  As reported elsewhere in this issue, it is common to spend $45 or more for tastings of the better wines in the better wineries.  For some people, this isn’t an issue, but there are many others who might be dissuaded from visiting America’s premier winemaking area because of the cost.  Here are some ideas for making a Napa Valley visit more affordable (although not cheap).

Photo courtesy of Vox.

  • There are still some top wineries that don’t charge an arm and a leg and there are still a few that are free (although who knows how much longer that will last). Foremost among these is Heitz Wine Cellars, a Napa Valley pioneer that has never charged for wine tasting.  Do a little homework before you go to find wineries within your budget.
  • Share a tasting. This is good advice on its own merits, since you can taste more wines without consuming more alcohol.  Of course, you need to travel with a fellow taster – your Significant Other is the best idea – and you may have to forego gulps in favor of sips.  But that’s what wine tasting is all about, anyway.
  • Join a wine club. All the wineries have clubs, which are a way for them to lock in customers.  In almost every instance, membership enables free wine tasting, often for a group, not just an individual.  Recently we have learned that some wineries allow you to communicate requests to welcome your friends as if they were members as well.  So if you have friends who are members of some clubs, ask them to call on your behalf.  If you are a member of some other wineries, you can make such requests reciprocal.
  • Buy a bottle. In many cases, wineries will waive tasting fees if you make a purchase.  This is a triple deal.  You get to taste for free, determine your favorite and take a bottle of that one home.
  • Taste wines on the less expensive menus. We do recommend tasting the reserve lists, but on occasion there are very nice wines to taste among the recent releases.  If you want to enjoy a particular winery for its architectural beauty, it might be just fine to taste the regular wines…like the ones you drink every day at home.
  • Splurge on just one special winery. There may be a Napa Valley wine that you particularly like.  Or one that is very famous and that you always wanted to try.  Yes, you’ll pay a lot to taste these wines but if you limit the number of such wineries, it will lower the economic pain.
  • Go somewhere else. There are great wines in Sonoma County, Santa Barbara and the Central Coast.  You don’t have to be in St. Helena or Rutherford to have a very pleasant tasting experience.  As for us, we’ll be back to Napa Valley for sure, just not as often.

How NOT to Be a Wine Snob – Part 3: Questions and Answers

There really is no justification for being a wine snob, not even (maybe especially even) if you know a little bit about wine.  If you are a wine expert, it’s still not excusable to be a snob because the whole idea of snobbery is to make others around you feel small.  What you do in the privacy of your own home is your business;  snobbism should be avoided when visiting tasting rooms in Wine Country.

Let’s say you have entered a tasting room.  Who’s there?  Anyone accompanying you, a few servers and some other wine tasters.  Your significant other is unlikely to be impressed with your vast knowledge.  The servers already know a lot about their own wines.  And the other guests are strangers who you’ll probably not see ever again.  So who is there to be snobbish for?

Courtesy of the Mercury News.

Here are some simple tips for avoiding wine snobbery when you’re out tasting.

  • Only ask a question if you want to know the answer. That sounds basic enough, but a true snob is only asking in order to show off when the answer is given.  The snob may not even listen to the answer, so eager is he or she to preen.  By all means ask questions in order to increase your knowledge or just to add to your pleasure about the wines you’re sipping.  But if you already know the answer, don’t ask.
  • If you’re trying to confirm you’re understanding, say so. Sometimes you think you know something but you’re not sure.  In that case, it’s polite to say, “I think I know, but would you remind me about…”.  For example, you might ask, “I think I remember that this vintage softer/ more tannic/ more fruit forward than previous vintages. Is it?”  The wine snob would simply pronounce his or her opinion, not ask.  But if you’re polite about it the server might reach below the bar for an older vintage for you to compare.  Impolite wine snobs might not be invited to try.
  • Listen to the answer. Snobs aren’t eager to hear; they are primed to speak as soon as the response to a question begins.  Often the answer to a specific question might lead to another question followed by another answer and so on.  We call that a conversation.  If you are knowledgeable, most servers are happy to converse.  Being lectured at is not likely to increase their interest in serving you.
  • Talk to others like you talk with friends. A lot of wine snobbery is attitude rather than words or actions.  It’s hard to look down your nose and sip at the same time.  If you are in discussion with someone who really knows wine, keep your tone conversational, the same way you would with a loved one or a friend.  If another guest asks what you think of a wine, give simple answers in plain English until you have reason to believe that the other person knows enough wine lingo to start using it yourself.

Champagne – Wine Tasting

With thousands of Champagnes to choose from, wine tasting in that region may feel overwhelming.  Where do you start?  How many can you taste?  Should you stick with Champagnes that you know or be adventurous and try a few glasses from producers unknown to you?  Can you really tell one from another, especially by the end of the day?

Let’s start with the best news: there are better Champagnes but there are no bad ones.  To paraphrase Mae West, when Champagne is good it’s great and when it’s bad it’s still good.  There is so much to learn when wine tasting in Champagne, and we’d like to start you off with a few tips.

  • Don’t try to do too much at one time. Champagne is a pretty big place so don’t try to drive all over in an attempt to see it all.  You will fail and you’ll lose a lot of time driving around.  It’s best to focus on one place at a time.  So a day in Reims can include Taittinger, Mumms and Veuve Cliquot, plus time for lunch and the cathedral.  A day in Épernay (Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët and lots of less well-known houses) must include a stroll down the Avenue de Champagne.  And it’s a good idea to devote a day to visiting some Champagne houses out in the countryside.
  • Take a tour. Very few Champagne houses offer you the chance to watch their wines being made.  They do tour you around their cellars, where they store and age their wines.  There they will explain the wine making process that makes sparkling wines unique.  But quite honestly, if you’ve seen one cave, you’ve seen them all: long holes in the ground with a lot of bottles in them.  It’s a good experience to see a Champagne cellar.
  • Take advantage of the smaller Champagne houses. The big ones often aren’t open to the public at all and if they are, a tour plus tasting can be expensive.  And you rarely get to taste their top wines.  Especially in the larger towns, you can walk in, order a glass of Champagne (even their best) for 10 euros or less and sit in a pleasant courtyard enjoying it.  Out in the country, you can do the same thing but you’ll look at the vineyards while you sip.
  • Do some comparison tasting. There are many bars where you can order a variety of Champagnes.  In general, they tend to have the smaller producers although we have tasted Moët & Chandon and Pol Roger side by side.  There are so many comparisons to be made that you can, for instance hone your appreciation of Blanc de Noirs or contrast those with Blanc de Blancs.  And you don’t have to get behind a wheel to try several different Champagnes, you just walk around.
  • All the rules for managing alcohol apply in Champagne as much as anywhere else.  (However, the alcohol levels in Champagne tend to be lower, so you can have a bit more freedom.)  You need to put some food in your stomach.  In almost every restaurant, you can get champagne by the glass with your meal.

How NOT to Be a Wine Snob – Part 2: Italy and the Rest of Europe

The popular American view of European wine lovers is that they are all snobs.  Equally, many Europeans think that Americans, wine lovers or not, are hicks.  Of course, neither typification is true, but there are just enough people who fit either category to give life to the stereotypes.  It does no one any good to show a European that Americans can be wine snobs also.

In our experience, those Americans who try to show themselves as superior in their wine knowledge compared with their friends are a bit more restrained when they are in European sectors of Wine Country.  For one thing, many don’t speak the languages and so are somewhat intimidated themselves.  (English-speaking countries in Europe don’t have wine worth discussion.  Beer they do have and the folks there can be pretty snobbish about their bitters.)

Cartoon courtesy of the drinksbusiness.com

For another thing, most Americans probably don’t have the familiarity with the wines of Italy, France or Spain than they do with those of Napa Valley.  So there’s only so much lording it over others that they can get away with.  Nonetheless, you don’t want to be one of those people who gives Americans a bad name overseas.

  • Don’t try to speak like a local. Unless you are truly multi-lingual, don’t fake it.  Most of the servers speak English, as do a great many Europeans today.  It’s okay to use terms like bianco and rosso, or blanc (don’t pronounce the “c”) and rouge but full sentences aren’t required.
  • But do learn a little of the local language. Contrary to the previous tip, it’s still a good idea to be polite and ask if the server speaks English before launching into a request for a tasting.  It’s not that difficult to learn “Parla inglese?” or “Parlez-vous anglais?”  Imagine if a foreigner came up to you and started spouting away in Italian or French.  You would probably just walk away.  So if they reply that they don’t know English, you’ve at least established the ground rules for some pidgin communications abetted by hand signals.
  • Don’t compare what you’re tasting with American wines you’re familiar with. Even in France, where the grapes are the same as in California, Washington and New York they just don’t taste the same.  And in Italy, Spain or Germany you may be tasting wines from totally unfamiliar grapes.  You can’t win.  If you say that the wines you’re tasting aren’t as good as he ones back home, you will have instantly proven that you ARE a snob.  And if you say that the American wines are worse, they’ll wonder why you’re comparing at all.  After all, they had all those grapes first.
  • Be appreciative. In the States, if you don’t like a wine, you (should) pour it out quietly and move on.  In Italy, for example, you may be tasting very unfamiliar wine.  It might take you a little while to become accustomed enough to a wine to know if you like it or not.  So even if you don’t immediately like what’s you’re sipping, show that you appreciate the opportunity to taste it.