Learn Proper Tasting Techniques
After you’ve thoroughly studied the bottle, it’s time to study the spirit. Put down the salt and the lime—here’s the right way to take the first sip:
First, observe the color and body of the spirit.
Swirl the glass so the spirit coats the walls. Open your mouth slightly and take a whiff. Make sure to sniff from the bottom lip, the middle of the glass and the top lip because different aromas shine through from different parts of the glass.
Reset and Re-smell
“To reset my sense, I often smell the back of my hand to establish neutral grounds again,” Greenleaf says. “You will notice that the longer tequila sits in your glass, the more aromas become present. This is because the alcohol is dissipating and the aromas are able to shine. Once I get a good understanding of the nose, I move on to sipping.”
Take a very small sip and let it sit in the center of your tongue for a few seconds, then swallow. “I don’t judge immediately because I am just getting started—my palate has to acclimate to the alcohol before the flavors come through,” she says. By the third sip, you’ll begin to notice different flavor notes.
Don’t Mix Just Any Tequila Into Cocktails
If sipping tequila straight isn’t your bag, there’s no shame in shaking or stirring it into cocktails—as long as you’re using the right types of tequila. For example, the Margarita is a near perfect cocktail that’s delicious with either a classic blanco tequila or more rounded reposado. But Greenleaf cautions against mixing with expensive añejos and extra añejos. “A lot of the nuances from the barrel will get lost in the citrus, so it's a bit wasteful,” she says. “If I want to add citrus to my tequila, I stick with a blanco or reposado.”