How to Taste Wine

//How to Taste Wine
How to Taste Wine2017-07-25T07:57:36+00:00

Tasting and smelling are essentially gratuitous tasks. However, without sensory focus and without a methodical method of smelling and tasting it is nearly impossible to cultivate taste memory, thereby making it impossible to appreciate anything meaningful about wine.

So, how does one taste and evaluate a glass of wine?

Tasting Environment

The environment surrounding your tasting experience, including the time of day, may affect your judgement of the wines you taste.  

Since it takes time for your mouth to adjust to alcohol and acidity in wine, initially the first few sips of wine may have a crude taste.

It is difficult to establish a clear sense of a wine’s aroma when strong competing smells exist such as, cologne or cooking spices. Other factors that will influence the taste of the wine include the shape of the glass, the age of the wine, as well as the temperature of the wine.

Counter acting negative as much as possible allows the wine to present independently for a more accurate evaluation of it. Separate yourself from areas with strong aromas, cup the bowl of the glass in your hand if the wine is to cold, and condition the glass by rinsing it with a bit of wine around the bowl if the smell of it seems dank.


Look At The Wine

Visually examine the wine in the glass. The color, noticeable sediment, clarity and attainable level of carbonation will supply and abundance of clues about the specific wine. In order to observe these clues, hold the glass straight and at various angles. For example, if a wine appears to be murky, this might indicate that there was a problem during fermentation; however, it could only be that the wine is unfiltered. Clearness and brilliance in a wine is always a positive indication.

Take A Big Sniff

Give the glass a good swirl; not recommended  for beginners, this is easily accomplished by resting the glass on a table , grasping it by the stem and moving it in a small circular motion. Swirling increases the ability to smell the wine, and as a result taste it better.

Hover your nose over the top of the liquid in the glass and take a series of quick, short sniffs. Because the nose fatigues rapidly it is essential to attempt to access the aromas quickly.

There are a lot of tools, information, and resources available to assist you in developing a nose to identifying the key fragrances in wine.

Aromas Most Closely Associated With White Wines

Chardonnay: pear, apple, pear, peach, melon, pineapple and other tropical fruits
Sauvignon Blanc: grass, herbs, grapefruit, pear, gooseberry, lime, lemon, olive
Gewurztraminer and Riesling: grapefruit, apricot, lime, mint, melon, peach, lilac, jasmine, cinnamon, cloves
Viognier: flowers, lemon, honeysuckle and nectarine

Aromas Most Often Associated With Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot: blackberry, raspberry, cherry, plum, black currant, chocolate, coffee, tea, tobacco, cedar, bell pepper, mint, smoke, nuts
Pinot Noir: raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, violet, rose
Zinfandel and Syrah: black currant, blackberry, pomegranate, plum, lavender, black peppercorn, wet wood, earthiness
Sangiovese: raspberry, cherry, plum, anise, olive

Evaluate The Taste

Taste is comprised of aroma, texture, and body taken together. Take a sip of wine into your mouth and roll it across your taste buds.

Again, you’ll encounter a wide range of ways that wine presents itself, remember that a harmony of the following characteristic is ultimately the objective:

  • Body Fullness or thinness: A function of both alcohol and glycerol contributing to the weight and concentration of wine as it crosses the palate
  • Acidity: Provides crispness and freshness quality to the wine without creating a flat and sour taste to the wine.
  • Tannin: The bitterness that you taste that is imparted from grape skins and seeds. Most obvious in reds, this textural element may make the wine taste astringent, hard, dry or soft.
  • Sweetness: Detected by the tip and top of your tongue, sweetness is a result of the wine’s intense fruit flavors as well as any residual grape sugars left behind in the wine. A wine that is “dry” is not sweet.
  • Fruitiness: The collaboration of aroma and taste. The perception of the intensity of fruit that you acquire; largely as a result of the aromatics of the wine.

Lastly, swallow or spit and observe the finish; the taste the remains on the palate The longer the finish, the better the wine is said to be.