December 16, 2010
One of the most popular rituals used when drinking tequila is the famous shot. Salt licked off the top of your hand, tequila and finally biting into a wedge of lime. This ritual dates back to the 1930’s flu epidemic in Mexico. It is said that doctors would prescribe this to their patients to kill the germs. The salt and lime was used help extinguish the tequila burn and sometimes bad taste. This ritual is sometimes practiced today due to the fact that tequila education has not reached out to everyone.
Quality tequila has emerged from the numerous low quality, “mixto” tequilas that flood the market. It is all about 100 percent agave tequilas now. Tequila that tastes good, is complex and does not give you a hangover is what many people are discovering. The question is, do we continue to shoot back a product that took so long to create?
I have learned that there is a better way to consume tequila. Sipping on tequila is an alternative to help you appreciate its complex aromas and flavors. First choose tequila that is 100 percent agave to avoid hangovers. The glass you select is also crucial when tasting tequila. A brandy snifter or a Ridel flute-like tequila glass is a perfect selection because it has a stem that you can hold so that your hand does not warm up the content. It also permits you to swirl it to funnel up the alcohol and is wide enough to let you put your nose in it without getting to close to the liquid.
Step one: Pour about an ounce and a half of tequila in a nice glass.
Step two: use your sense of sight to look at the liquid. If the tequila is not aged it should be as clear as water. If the tequila is aged it should have a gold to amber color. This depends on how long it is aged. A quality tequila should not have any sediments in it. Give it a swirl and it should form a nice viscous neck with slow dripping tears or legs. This is the body of the tequila.
Step three: use your sense of smell. After the swirl let a sit for about 30 seconds before you “nose” it. If you nose it right away the primary alcohols give you a burning sensation. Let it breath to let the strong alcohols funnel out. Take your time to discover the complex aromatics. 600 different aromas have been discovered in tequila so far.
Step four: use your sense of taste. The key here is sipping. Your tongue perceives four basic components of taste: Sweet on the tip of the tongue, salty and acidic on the lateral parts and bitter on the back of the tongue. Start by making sure that the front of the tongue is exposed to the tequila first and the back last. This will permit you to discover more flavors. The finish is when you swallow the liquid. Is it smooth, rough, silky? These are only some of the adjectives used to describe the finish but there are more.
Repeat these steps more than once to let your senses and the tequila open up. Soon you will discover and find that there is more to just shooting back good tequila.