Wine Tasting

The Wine Tasters generally meets at a member’s home on a Tuesday evening to taste and learn about wines from around the globe – European, New World, and American.

The AWC Wine Tasting group is one of the club’s longest existing interest groups – it’s beginnings go back to the 1980’s when several AWC members who were wine aficionados decided to get together to expand their knowledge via a tasting group. Because the selection and ordering of wines was then still primarily a masculine domain, the group agreed that it would be “ladies only”, offering women the opportunity to gain expertise about purchasing and serving wines and confidence in ordering wine in a restaurant setting apart from their male counterparts influence.

For information or to register for the next wine tasting, see the Rhine Times, or contact Sarah at

The Wine Tasters Groups of AWC Basel
The Art of Enjoying Wine

A glass of wine should always be picked up by its stem so as not to affect the temperature of the wine. Also, a wine glass should be shaped narrower at the top than at the bottom. If the glass is wider at the top, the wine tastes bitter and acidic. Never fill the glass more than half full and preferably use a crystal glass. Non-crystal glasses have a rim around them which can result in wine on your chin because you have misjudged the touch on your lips.

Professional wine tasters judge the wine by looking at its color and its clarity. Then they swirl the wine around the glass to release its aroma, poke their nose into the glass and take a short sniff. As your nose is hundreds of times more sensitive than your palate, it will tell you a lot about the flavor of the wine. Following that, they sip and slosh the wine around in the mouth. The longer the taste lasts, the better the wine is: four to seven seconds is normal for most wines. A really good wine will have a taste that lasts for twenty seconds. Wine should be clear and free of particles. Older wines have more of a brown color. Most people probably assume that the older a wine is, the better it is. This is not true. Some wines are meant to be drunk “young” and can taste like vinegar if they get too old.

Red wines are often served too warm, i.e. above 17-18 degrees Celsius. Years ago, red wines were served at so-called “room temperature”, but this was before central heating was invented. White wine should always be served cold, but not chilled, at about 12-14 degrees Celsius. Wine should never be more than 14.9% alcohol. Finally, paying a higher price for your selection does not necessarily mean buying a better wine. — Mary R.

The Philosophy of the Perfect Wine Glass

The 1900s saw many changes regarding table settings and accoutrements and most of them were definitely for the better; glassware included. Good-bye to the overly decorated wine glass of the past. It was now being replaced by a clear, aesthetically formed one, which directed one’s attention to the contents, and not to the glass itself.

Even earlier, around the mid-1800s, different glasses for different wines had come into fashion in wealthier private homes. However, hotels and restaurants, regardless of how elegant they were, continued to rely on the basic three: the white, the red, and the dessert wine glass.

As the palatial grand hotels of Switzerland were enjoying their heyday at the turn of the 20th century, two men, who shared a common belief concerning wine, came together there. They believed that a good wine should have its own glass to bring out its distinctive character. One was the gastronome and founder of European cocktail culture, Harry Schraemli, and the other was Wilhelm Buchecker, owner of a glass and porcelain house serving the hotel and restaurant trade. Their motto became: A different glass for every wine. A quarter of a century later their glass sets were considered comme il faut in leading hotels and restaurants. In fact they took their conviction one step further and successfully launched the concept of a different glass for every cocktail. Undoubtedly, none of this was bad for business.

Then in the 1970s a glassmaker from Kufstein, Austria, Prof. Claus Josef Riedel, began to experiment with custom-made glasses for every wine variety. The results of his work are to be seen throughout Europe in private homes as well as on the gastronomic scene. Whether or not you can fully comply with the Riedel philosophy is as much a question of taste as of shelf space, not to mention the expense.

To sum up, most wine lovers will agree that the enjoyment of even a simple wine is enhanced when it is served in the appropriate glass, and even more so, when an expensive, aristocratic variety is involved.

Wine Tasters of AWC Basel