Don’t have the patience to learn the complexities of every type of wine out there? You don’t have to actually be a pro to act like one. Wine tasting is about knowing what you’re looking for, the most common flavor notes and a few keywords that will help you sound more wine master than layman. The biggest skill you’ll need to learn is how to tune into your own senses to effectively taste a glass of wine.
Expert wine tasters will closely examine their wine before even thinking about tasting it. The perfect amount of wine for examining is one-third of a glass. Follow these steps to properly examine your wine:
- Look at the wine from straight above the glass. Hold the glass up to the light, tilt it and let the wine roll to the edges of the glass. You’ll be able to see the wine’s full range of color, not just how it looks at its darkest.
- View the wine from the side to see how clear it is as the light shines through it. Is it murky? That could mean there was a problem during the fermentation process or that there’s some kind of chemical issue. Or, it could be unfiltered wine or wine with some sediment that got mixed in while it was poured. The best wine is going to be clear and a bit sparkly.
- Tilt the glass to let the wine thin out. Is the color pale and watery? You’re looking at a young wine. Is it on the darker side? Either it’s aged or its oxidized (the latter is not a good thing).
- Place the wine glass on the table and swirl it by gently moving the base of the glass in a small circle. Does the wine look like its forming tears down the glass? Those are the “legs” – good legs mean a higher alcohol content and a dense wine.
Your next step is to bring the wine glass up to your nose and inhale. Right before you raise the glass, give it another swirl. Don’t put your nose far into the glass – instead, hover right above it. Don’t breathe in too deeply, but instead take short, quick sniffs. Then, back away and pay attention to the aroma.
The next part is actually kind of easy: what did you smell? There are so many aroma components in just one glass of wine that you’re not expected to name each and every one. Odds are, you recognize something, whether it’s a fruit, herb or floral scent. Even a general statement like, “I smell citrus,” or “I get a floral scent,” means you’re doing something right.
Ahh, finally, the best part! Sip, don’t gulp, and hold the wine in your mouth before swallowing. If you can, suck on it a bit while it’s in your mouth to aerate the wine. Just like when you took a sniff, you’re going to try to determine the flavors that you taste. But that’s not all…
- Balance: The wine shouldn’t be too anything – too sugary, too bitter, etc.
- Harmony: Regardless of how many flavors are in a wine, they should blend together tastefully.
- Complexity: Do the flavors seem to change during the tasting process? This is the sign of a complex wine.
It’s a common misconception that you have to spit out the wine before you taste the next. This may be par for the course at super serious wine tasting events, but on a regular evening out, don’t hesitate to actually drink your wine. Plus, when you swallow the wine, you’ll get its aftertaste, which is a big component of tasting.
Victoria Hawke is an alcohol distributor. I read about how she helps people who don’t want to look like newbs when they’re around wine snobs so I asked for help. She loves sharing her favorite products and findings on food and beverage blogs. Got a wine refrigerator for your kitchen? I do and they aren’t expensive at all. Victoria Hawke is an alcohol distributor. She loves sharing her favorite products and findings on food and beverage blogs. Find a wine refrigerator for your kitchen.