How to Taste Wine in 3 Simple Steps

Learning to taste wine can be an new sensory adventure that most people are missing out on!

But, you are here, so I’m sure it means something to you!

Let’s talk about why you should learn why to taste wine the correct way…

If you’re tasting a nice wine, there are years, and perhaps centuries that go into that bottle.

Many French and Italian wines are made from generations of winemakers- knowledge that has been passed down winemaker to winemaker and is now ending up in your glass. 

Something we gulp down in a couple minutes took years of mastering and perfecting. 
It is really art in a bottle. 
And for the winemakers, we should at least try to enjoy it in the way it was made, with care and craftmenship. 
Below are the 3 simple steps to tasting wine. It’s just an introduction. 
I worked at a wine shop for a year, and learned all I know from the owner who was French, and owned wineries. 
When a new wine came in, we had to taste them for quality and to see if it would make it into the store. 
It was fun of course! But, I also learned a lot speaking to the winemakers that presented their wines so proudly, and who became so vulnerable to our criticisms, much like an artist. 
Let’s honor these artists by learning how to taste.

How to Taste Wine in 3 Simple Steps

1. Swirl
2. Nose
3. Sip and Taste

1. Swirl

The swirl is probably my favorite part because it awakens the wine and makes it look like a ruby in a glass. ( I prefer red wine always, but these techniques work for all wines).
The point of the swirl is to aerate, or bring oxygen into the wine. Like fire, wine needs oxygen to bring it to life and bring out the dormant notes and flavors that have been cooped up in the bottle. 
As you swirl it, the aromas will release and the wine in your glass will already be taking on a new complexity. 
The swirl might take some practice to perfect, so if you’re a beginner, just fill your glass with very little wine. 
Hold the glass by the stem (never by the bowl to avoid warming the wine with your hands). 
Move the glass in a counter-clockwise motion- or clockwise, whatever suits you for a few swirls.

Notice any aromas that come out. Also, notice the color- how deep or pale it is. 

At this point you will also notice the “legs” or the droplets of wine that come down in the glass. Some slow and some fast. 
Despite most studies, legs do not denote quality of the wine, but simply the viscosity or thickness of the wine. The more alcoholic wines tend to have more legs.

The step is to wake up the wine and “get to your wine” first impression.

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2. Nose

The nose is the smell of the wine which might be the most fun part. After swirling the wine, you put your nose way in to the glass and take in all the aromas. 

  • For white wines you might smell: apple, pear, kiwi, grapefruit, or other citrus
  • For red wines you might smell: blackberry, plum, cherry, strawberry, tobacco, leather, chocolate
At first they may seem far-fetched but after some time, I’m sure you will begin to identify them.

These scents come from a variety of things including the barrels that they were aged in, the air the vines were grown in, and the other plants that were growing nearby.

The point is to take in the aroma and appreciate it for its full beauty and unique nose. 

3. Sip and Taste

The first 2 steps lead up to this step. They build up the anticipation for the big taste!

But, you don’t take a big sip and gulp right away. 

Like the first step where we swirl it to aerate the wine and get oxygen into it, we will do the same thing with our mouth. 
We will use our mouth to breathe oxygen into the wine to awaken even more aromas. 
Do this by taking a very small sip and don’t swallow- just hold it in your mouth. 
Then, pucker your lips and suck in a little air gently. You will make a sort of bubbly noise. That’s not rude when wine tasting. 
After sucking in air, let the wine sit in your mouth for a couple seconds and then swallow. 
You might notice more of those fruit flavors coming through now. You will also notice if the wine is dry of soft. Do you feel like a cotton-mouth after? This is common for many heavy reds that have “tannins” (similar to eating an unripe banana).

Softer wines like Chardonnay may feel creamy and soft on the tongue.

Notice how the wine changes the texture on your tongue.

This way you get the body of the wine.

The best part  about wine tasting is you can repeat this whole process again if you didn’t get it the first time. 

In Summary

Learning how to wine taste not only allows you to appreciate your wines more, but is the best way to honor the winemakers who put so much time and effort into their wines. 
Unlike many American movies and dramas that show people drinking wine like they’re Red Bulls, enjoying wine is embedded in Old World culture where it is sipped, enjoyed over hours with good food, and most importantly, good company. 
I would love everyone to appreciate wine a little more in the US because I do believe they are art in a bottle. We just have to learn how to taste them to appreciate them. 

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