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Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. The practice of wine tasting dates back to the inception of wine’s production however evolved to become established around the 14th century. Today’s wine tasters also known as Sommeliers use an ever evolving formal terminology used to describe the range of the perceived flavors, aromas and characteristics of the wine. It is to some analytical, simple and to others complex and a science.

The process of the tasting follows the simple format:

  • appearance
  • “in glass” (the aroma of the wine )
  • “in mouth” sensations
  • “finish” or aftertaste

The afore in combination establish the following properties of a wine:

  • complexity and character
  • potential (suitability for aging or drinking)
  • possible faults

There are five basic steps in tasting wine: color, swirl, smell, taste, and savor and during this process, the taster identifies clarity, varietal character, integration, expressiveness, complexity, and connectedness.

Some say science some say art.  Neither correct nor incorrect. Wine Tasting is a past-time, a hobby and a collector’s purpose. Wine tasting is the avant-garde chic thing to do, suggesting class, sophistication, and education in many circles and has in recent years grown in trend, with the establishment of wine bars and wine restaurants, where in food is paired with the staple, wine. Unlike restaurants who create the menu and have wine in stock. One highlights food and the other the libation.

With all of this said there is a new emerging trend in beverages today; Tequila.  Yes, Tequila. To most, the Tequila experience is shot glasses, limes or lemons and salt. Sometimes it’s the mystery in the ever popular summertime drink, the Margarita. Ask most, and they will relay one story or another involving severe intoxication and a heavy day after.

However, what is not well known but becoming increasingly popular is the Tequila of taste, not intoxication. Tequila tasting and food pairings are becoming more popular all the time. Tequila bars and tasting rooms are cropping up all over the country and the U.K.  Featuring premium tequila’s, these establishments follow the same protocol for the tasting experience and quality assessment as one would do with wine, and encourage the pairings with food for the benefit of understanding that the premium products are to be savored and enjoyed at the same pace as one would savor and enjoy a good cigar or a robust Chianti from Tuscany. 

Using the same science, tequila is judged on the similar qualities and traits as wine, however, unlike wine, Tequila comes from one region only, Jalisco Mexico. Anything else isn’t Tequila. That bottle we know with the worm in the bottom is not in fact Tequila, but a product called “Mezcal” which is something entirely different altogether

With 3500 brands of Tequila available in Mexico, and roughly 1500 labels here in the U.S the market seems broad and can be overwhelming to the beginner taster. Seeking out the best brands, and becoming the veritable “Catadore” (this is tequila talk for Sommelier) in an ever growing trend and market is no small undertaking. With a shot or snifter average of $10.00 per, out pacing the typical glass of wine at $6.50, it would seem that this trend brings with it a more prestigious credibility than the simple wine taster.  

Seeing this trend and the turn in the market many Tequila brands are now taking a new marketing route to the consumer. Milagro, for example, announced that the branding of their product is focusing on “Sophisticated” Tequila. No longer is it about waking up uncertain of the night before, but specifically targets the consumer that wants to have the prestige and the clout of knowing what’s what on the shelf, and branding themselves through the product in the process.  Milagro targets the consumer that is “evolved” using this catch word in the summer campaigns ahead, such as “Taste evolved”, and “Tequila Evolved”.  It seems gone are the days of the association of the worm, donkey or sombrero, and here are the days of taste, culture, sophistication and flavor.

While Milagro dates to inception in 1997, a newer generation of premium tequila is hitting the market. Riazul Premium, with a tag line “Flow Freely” comes to the table with a birth date of 2007. The flavors and smooth architecture lend themselves to the ultimate combination for a truly delightful, if not glorious tequila product. With a heartfelt back story, and a quality, if not classy presentation, Riazul has come of age in the Tequila market primed for the picking and just in time for the “Catadore’s” to appreciate. What is more impressive about this product beyond the taste is the manner by which it is marketed. Rather than appeal to masses, and becoming another Cabo Wabo, or El Jimador, or Herradura, this product lends itself to the personal experience.  Enjoy a private tasting experience, or find yourself in the presence of the owners, and your education and knowledge is coupled with the passion for the product and pride in the accomplishment.  Not everyone can produce a quality product. You can bottle it in something that speaks of class and elegance, and you can present it in something that speaks of eloquence and stature, but if in the end, the swill, sensation and flavor is not there, you are left disappointed. Not the case with Riazul Premium.  It is not something with that “back-kick” we gag on, when we remember the salt and lime experience. It is not something we chase with another beverage in an effort to achieve intoxication. It does “Flow Freely”, and it is enjoyable and worth every penny.

Reconsider Tequila, and find yourself amongst a whole new generation of trendsetters. Break the tradition of the Mojito, and bypass the wine this Saturday night. Go find yourself a Tequila Tasting room, or head on out to your favorite trendy and classy bar, and ask the bartender for the Premium Tequila options.  Begin your education and become a “Catadore”. You will be glad you did.