Assessing the wine

After you have sampled a wine with your eyes, nose and mouth, you will then be in a position to assess it. Is it simple and easy to drink or is it complex, with many different layers of flavours that will reveal themselves over time? Is it ready for drinking now or should you keep it for a while? Does it offer value for money? Most importantly, do you enjoy it?

A wine that gives immediate pleasure and doesn't have any tannins that need to soften is ready to drink. If a red has a lot of tannin, then it may well need several years to soften and to show its best. A wine that feels closed or tight at the back of the palate will generally improve with time. Some young wines that taste very oaky, especially if the oak and the fruit seem separate, may just need time for these elements to marry together.

One of the continuing fascinations of wine lies in determining when it will be ready to drink. The optimum moment depends upon the individual drinker - some enjoy their wines young, when the fruit is to the fore, others prefer to wait until the wine has developed the richness that is characteristic of age.

Whatever your budget, getting value for money is very important. Even if a wine costs

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