I can hear it now: "I don't need you to tell me how to drink, Kelly!" Yes, I suppose that's true. Do what makes you happy. |
But indulge me for a second-
Throughout this page and all my tastings, I am assuming that good tequila is to be sipped neat (hence the name of this site). No ice, no salt, no lime. Perhaps a little sangrita as a palate
cleanser between tequilas.
Why no ice, I hear you ask? Coldness deadens one's tastebuds. Cheap wines are chilled so you won't be able to tell that they're not top quality. Adding ice to any good spirit will mask the subtle flavors by numbing your tongue, rendering it unable to perceive the flavors.
When you're sipping tequila, the glass makes a huge difference. Oddly, many bars will serve tequila in shot glasses. These are entirely wrong. Use a small brandy snifter, or something that's somewhat closed at the top. See the photo at the top of this page for a good example. These types of glasses concentrate the vapors and aromas of the liquor and you'll get the full experience and flavor of the tequila. With an open-topped glass, your nose will not get the proper benefit of the aroma, and the taste will literally suffer because of it. If you're looking to buy tasting glasses, the best of the best are the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass and Stolzle Weinland Champagne glass. The Riedel is the only glass designated for tasting by the Tequila Regulatory Council (actually, CRT, or "Consejo Regulador del Tequila" as it's known in Mexico).
Before you start tasting, your mouth needs to "warm up." Think of this as the stretching exercises a runner would do before a run. Your mouth needs to become acquainted with straight tequila, and overcome
the shock of the introduction of potent liquids.
Without a warm-up, the tequila will taste very fiery, your mouth will feel a burning sensation, and you'll miss many of the flavors.
First, tilt the glass gently, taking care not to agitate the tequila. Smell, and take note of what different flavors you can discern. This is called the "first nose."
Swirl the tequila in the glass, as you'd do with wine. Let the tequila coat the inside of the glass, and let it settle.
Watch for the formation of "legs" stretching down the sides. If it takes more than five seconds to reach the bottom, the tequila has a "full body."
Take a sip. Not too large, not too small. Let the tequila roll over your tongue, and don't swallow immediately. Savor the flavors.
As you swallow, you may sense even more flavors. After swallowing, pause a moment, and pay attention to the aftertaste, or finish.
After you swallow the last sip from the glass, smell again. This is the "third nose." The dominant flavors will remain, as will some other delicate flavors.
"But what about margaritas?" I hear you ask. Margaritas are indeed wonderful things. And while I typically make them with a good tequila, I don't use a VERY good
tequila. The lime juice, agave syrup, and other ingredients will mask the subtle flavors of an excellent tequila. Will I use Patron silver in a margarita? Yes,
but there are much better tequilas that are priced lower or about the same. It's true that better ingredients make a better finished product, so
a better variety than Patron will make a better margarita. But don't use something that costs more than $30-40 a bottle. At that
point you're wasting money, and wasting good tequila.
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