If you've ever wondered how the experts taste tequila, today's article is just for you.
It's a lot like wine tasting in the sense that you have to have a clear palette and rid yourself of any distractions like perfume and other odorous substances. Another comparison to wine is the fact that you'll always want to start with a lighter tequila (blancos) and then get to the darker tequilas like reposados and then eventually, the darkest anejos and even extra anejo tequilas. Alternatively, some people just take one type of tequila and sample only that kind to give themselves a wide array of a certain type.
How does a Tequila Tasting Work?
First, let's just say that tasting tequila can go from very beginner, to very advanced. There are experts out there who will probably scoff at my notion that swirling it, sniffing it, and tasting it slowly is the way to go. You'll see people out there who take so much pride in sniffing it that it's almost like someone told them “this is the last thing you'll ever smell, and you have ten minutes to get all the whiffs you want.” They literally caress the glass with their nose, and for me, while I totally respect the craft of the experts out there who know way more than I do, I just think for hobbyists like myself and perhaps, you – you don't need to go so far on the nose worship.
I've seen people use all types of glasses to sip and taste tequila. For my money, there is nothing better than a Riedel glass. They make a long flute shaped glass that most people, even the hardcore experts out there, will agree is the best glass for sipping tequila. Others will use the two to three ounce “caballito” glass that's a few inches tall. Either will work out for you if you are just starting out with tequila tastings.
Start your tasting by pouring just over one ounce of tequila. Then, swirl the tequila as if you were swirling a wine.
Okay, so most people here will probably not know that advanced tequila tasting should include a proper sniff test. When you are sniffing tequila, hold your nose about two inches from the glass, and take a big whiff.
The First Sip of Tequila Tasting
When you do a tequila tasting, you literally take a tiny sip of tequila on your first go-round. This will get your palette ready and help you avoid any “burn” when you take your larger sip and look for the flavors. I've read many places online that you are supposed to spit out the first sip, but personally I don't like wasting anything, let alone a fine tequila, so I haven't done that yet.
On your next sip, take a larger pull off of the glass. What flavors do you note? Some of the best tequila tasters in the world will go into deep details about the notes they experience. “Vegetal, caramel, toffee,” you'll hear those types of words a lot when you watch experts taste tequila.
When you finish, rinse your mouth with water. Then, move on to the next tequila. To cleanse your palette, you can use the popular “sangrita.” This is a mix of tomato juice and spices. I've seen different mixes of sangrita depending on if I'm at home in South Florida or in the places I frequently travel in Central America, so it's never been something I've had much luck in consistency with. It's almost like a bloody mary, everyone has their own way of doing it.
Best Practices for Tequila Tasting:
1) Have a sober driver.
Never drink and drive. Especially when drinking something as powerful as tequila.
2) Take your time.
While pounding shots of tequila is the norm for 99% of the public, go contrarian. Enjoy it, savor it, and learn more about it. I try to learn more every day by reading and studying experts who are in the field and have a much longer tenure with tequila.
3) Use a controlled environment.
People will always say don't have anything spicy on the day of a tequila tasting. Eat very drab and unflavored food. Don't wear cologne or perfume. Keep your controls tight and you will find more flavors and in turn, appreciate the tequila more.
Ever wonder where your favorite tequila is made? Click the link to find out more about the various distilleries.