How to Taste Tequila
So, you wanna start figuring out which tequilas you like - well there's only one way. Fortunately, the way to do it is pretty damn fun. It's a lot like wine tasting if you've ever done that, only tasting 4 of em is effectively 4 shots so I recommend hiding the car keys, and I don't recommend doing it right before your first day of Navy SEAL training. Let's get started.
It's common to go a route similar to what you do when you taste wine. With wine, you typically start with whites and progress to reds. Many do the same with tequila. This means you'll start with a blanco (aka silver), then move to a reposado, and finish with the heavier anejo. The other way to go is to pick a type, say anejos, and taste those exclusively to see which you like best.
Reidel - makes a flute shaped glass with a stem that's widely recognized as the best glass for tasting tequila. Some crap about how it hits your palate, how the bouquet hits your nose etc. Seems to work great to us. Box of 4 is about 20 bucks.
Caballito - A two to three ounce glass 3 to 4 inches tall used in Mexico. Classic.
How Much to Pour In:
A little bit more than a typical shot. In the Reidel glass, that means just up to about the point where the glass straightens.
To Shake or To Swirl
Some advocate giving the glass a "shake", but we think a typical swirl just like you do with wine gets the bouquet out just fine.
Don't shove your nose in the glass like you would with wine, you'll just smell the booze (and make your eyes all watery, which usually doesn't make you look all that masculine). Keep your nose about an inch and a half away from the glass where you'll get more of the smell of the tequila.
Drink a dab of it first. This'll get your mouth ready for the burn of the alcohol, thus helping you ignore that and focus on the sweet sweet nectar on the next sip. Next, take a larger sip as you would with wine. Enjoy. Critique. Try to figure out what you taste, and why you like it. And don't be a total douchebag about it. Rinse (water is just fine), repeat until you're on the floor. Add your thoughts to tequilagringo.com and help save the world from bad tequila.
OK, so no tequila tasting article is complete without talking about how to cleanse your palette between tequilas - as the commenters have so aptly pointed out. Here's the deal. The accepted gold standard is sangrita, typically served in a tall thin glass (like a thin shot glass, cabillito etc.). Recipes vary, but they generally consist of tomato juice, citrus, and something to give it a little zing (pepper, tabasco, jalepeno etc.) Not the DIY type? There are a bunch of commercial brands out there. But you're not always going to have sangrita around. In fact, most of the time you probably won't. No sweat, swishing around a little water will suffice in a pinch. So make like a Listerine commercial and swish.