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The following steps are often thought of simply as 'wine tasting' steps, but can and should be used to fully appreciate any type of alcoholic drink. In point of fact, these same steps could be followed to enhance the enjoyment of many beverages which contain no alcohol at all, but that is beyond the scope of this study. Be that as it may, follows are what I generally look for when tasting and judging wine and other alcoholic berverages:

1. Appearance. Most beverages should be clear. They may be dark, which will make clarity harder to detect. but they should not be murky or cloudy. Hold your glass up to a light, preferably against a plain white background. Obviously, a glass that is perfectly clear with smooth, even sides is a necessity for this purpose. The color should be even, blending a little lighter toward the edges. There should be no swirls of color, or viscosity within the drink, as this indicates a lack of proper ageing and the bottle should be left to age so all the components of the drink can marry with each other and not compete within the glass for your attention.

2. Aroma. Young wines will have a light, fruity, aroma. Older wines, as well as brandies and whiskeys will have a much more complex bouquet. Cordials, of course, will vary, depending on the number and type of aromatic ingredients used. Beer should have the aroma of its malt, which can also be quite complex if a mixture of different malts is used. In no case should there be any underlying aroma of yeastiness. Gently swirl the drink around in its glass, which should be shaped so as to capture the aromatics and concentrate them at the top of the glass, ready to be appreciated by the drinker. Sniff gently, placing the nose over the glass.

3. Taste. This is the part that so many people like to skip to, but without fully appreciating the color and aroma, particularly the aroma, the taste can not be fully appreciated either. The taste will combine the senses of the tongue with those of the nose to give a more complete understanding and enjoyment to the experience of alcohol- ic bevereges. The tongue will sense lightness, or fruitiness from the fruit itself; crispness, or tartness from the acidity of the drink; the presence of higher alcohols, esters and other flavoring agents such as sugar, honey, or spices, while the nose is still dwelling on the bouquet of the drink. Both of these senses will combine at this time for fuller appreciation than either could give alone.

4. Finish. Swallow just a tiny sip and note the sensations left behind in the mouth, and also as it flows downward, through the throat and into the stomach. Feel the alcohol's warming qualities and embrace the beverage's subtle aftertaste. All of the various flavor sensations should come together at this time and compiment each other, none being more noticeable than any of the others. This balance is the mark of a well made beverage, be it wine, beer, whiskey, brandy or liqueur. This is what all the work, all the striving up to this point, is all about. This is what we are all working for.

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