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What is a Wine Flight? Answered (2023 Guide)

What is a Wine Flight

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

If you’ve ever visited some wine bars or restaurants, you may have heard the term “wine flight” thrown around. So, what is a wine flight exactly?

A wine flight is a term used in the wine world to refer to a selection of wines for tasting—or, simply put, a wine-tasting event. But there’s more to it than that.

We’ll learn everything you need to know about wine flights and how you can organize one.

What Wine Flight Means For Sommeliers

Wine flights, also called tasting flights, are special wine-tasting events for sommeliers, wine business owners, and wine lovers.

Furthermore, wine flights involve comparative tasting of multiple wines selected within a specific theme, which can be based on a region, variety, or style, while educating participants and their taste buds to perceive the subtle hints of each wine.

Why Do They Call It A Flight Of Wine?

The term “flight” of wine has some unique and fascinating versions. 

One theory suggests that “flight” was adopted due to its collective meaning of “group of,” which is also the term used to describe a group of birds or stairs—thus, a group of wine.

However, some romantics believe that the term reminds people about travel since wines come from different regions, and tasting them brings the fondest memories about their journey around the world.

How Many Drinks Are Served In This Event?

Bottles of Wine , Glass and a Decanter

A wine flight typically serves three or four wines, but sometimes more, depending on the event at which they are served.

Usually, red wines, white wines, or sparkling wines are the options poured into wine glasses, each containing 2 ounces.

For super special wines, it’s commonly an ounce for each glass. 

Then, these glasses are situated on a special board with shallow surfaces for serving and are sometimes accompanied by tasting notes, neutral palate cleansers, and sometimes some educational component.

Does It Include All Types Of Wine?

A wine flight may include all types of wine, but it largely depends on the event at which it is held.

With so many wines available on the market, wine flights also commonly involve wines made of one wine grape or the same wine type from different countries, regions, and wineries.

This way, you can experience the subtle differences between, for instance, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.   

Wine Flight vs Wine Tasting

Wine flight and wine tasting are similar in how they involve sampling different wines and educating wine enthusiasts.

Beer is made by men, wine by God!”

— Martin Luther, German Priest, Theologian, Author, Hymnwriter, Professor, and Augustinian Friar

However, wine flights are often more casual and are focused solely on the tasting experience, in which the different types of wines are served in small portions to experience in one sitting.

On the other hand, wine tastings are typically more about wine education to a greater degree, discussing the wines’ characteristics and winemaking methods.

How Do You Drink A Wine Flight?

Start with a light drink, like American sparkling wine or white wine, and work your way up to help you appreciate the wine’s characteristics and prevent your palate from becoming overwhelmed.

When you sip, let the wine sit on your tongue for a few seconds to thoroughly experience the flavors and note its best characteristics.

You can spit it into the spittoon if the taste is not to your liking.

Between each sip, cleanse your palate with water or a neutral palate cleanser like crackers or bread to help you taste each wine more accurately.

How Do You Organize It?

First, choose a theme based on a specific region, variety, or style.

Select the wines that fit your chosen theme, ranging from light to full-bodied, dry to sweet, and at different price points.

Tip: Featuring regional wines often makes a great wine flight since it allows guests to taste different kinds of wines from a particular region.  

Arrange the wines from ones with a lighter body to full body, and dry to sweet, and serve small pours or 2 ounces of wine in each glass while providing tasting sheets of each wine variety.

Serve water, neutral palate cleansers, or food pairings that complement the wines in your flight. 

Finally, ask your guests about their overall impression of each wine, including aromas, flavors, and more, while providing some background information.

‎Wine Flight Ideas To Try

hand holding glass of wine

Oaked vs Unoaked Wines

Comparing oaked and unoaked wines, particularly Chardonnays, will help you learn the impact of oak aging and how it gives distinct buttery and vanilla flavors [1].

Source from the same region, but if they’re from the same winery.

  • Oaked Chardonnay: Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay, Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve
  • Unoaked Chardonnay: Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay

Cold vs Warm Climate Riesling

Comparing cold and warm climate Riesling will provide insights into the impact of climate [2] on the Riesling grape.

Source Riesling wines from different wine regions. 

  • Cold Climate Riesling: Germany Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, New York Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling
  • Warm Climate Riesling: Australia Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, France Trimbach Riesling Reserve

Bordeaux Blend Comparison

Comparing Bordeaux blends allows you to discover the nuances of different

Bordeaux blends and the impact of vintage variation, winemaking techniques, and terroir on the final product.

Source Port wines from France and Argentine for better comparison.

  • France Bordeaux Blend: Chateau Margaux Pavillion Rouge, Chateau Latour
  • Argentina Bordeaux Blend: Catena Zapata Nicolas, Bodega Norton Privada Cabernet Sauvignon

Young vs Aged Port

Comparing young wines and aged wines, particularly Port, is a great way to discover how the aging process evolves the flavor and aroma of an aged wine.

Source young wines and aged wines from the same winery.

  • Young Port: Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Ruby Port, Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port
  • Aged Port: Fonseca 20-Year-Old Tawny Port, Taylor Fladgate 40-Year-Old Tawny Port 

Shiraz vs Syrah

Comparing Shiraz and Syrah is an excellent way to explore how wines from the same grape can taste entirely different due to winemaking methods and harvest times. 

  • Shiraz: Penfolds Grange Shiraz, Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz
  • Syrah:Chapoutier Hermitage Syrah, Cote-Rotie Ampodium Syrah

Tip: If you want to make your wine flight have a more interesting debate, you can include New World Wines and Old World Wines. New World Wines include King Estate, and Seven Hills Pinot Gris, while Old World Wines include Jermann Pinot Grigio and Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris.

FAQs

Can you share a wine flight?

Yes, you can share a flight of wine with a few friends since it is meant to be tasted and compared, discussing the set of wine’s characteristics like intensity, viscosity, and wine sediment. 

How many glasses is a flight of wine?

A flight typically consists of three or four wine glasses, and each wine glass contains 1 to 2 ounces of wine.

What are the benefits of a wine flight?

The primary benefit of tasting wine on a wine flight is that it allows you to experience subtleties of different styles, regions, and varieties affordably. 

It also helps you learn more about different kinds of wines and discover new favorites.

Final Say

A wine flight is a fun and educational experience for wine lovers of all levels, understanding the similarities and differences between them and developing your preferences and palate simultaneously.

If you plan to organize one, refer to the wine flight ideas we’ve provided above. You just have to make sure that your selected wines are all related in any way.

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/oak-barrels
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-will-alter-the-taste-of-wine/
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