You’ve surely had this experience. After opening a bottle of wine at a dinner party (or any social setting, really), one of the guests takes slightly longer than the rest to have their first sip. This person first eyes the glass against the light, brings it to their nose for a few seconds and only then takes the first sip. Another few seconds pass, and they finally conclude with, “Hmm, apricots,” or something along those lines.
While this might seem like some sort of complicated skill, it’s not that difficult to learn how to properly taste wine. You might not immediately become an expert, but knowing the basics of wine tasting is surely the first step in becoming one! Get started by following the 4 steps below.
Step 1: Check It Out
Look at the colour of the wine in your glass. Doing so will give you some pointers on variety, age & vinification. Find a white background to hold your glass against. Tilt it away from you and analyse the colour. Does the wine have a watery rim? This could indicate age. White wine with a golden hue could mean that it has spent time in wood or been aged.
Step 2: Nose Your Wine
Holding the glass by the stem, swirl it for a few seconds. Doing so releases the aromas trapped at the bottom of the glass and allows them to make their way to the top. Take a quick whiff. What do you smell? Swirl again, then stick your nose in the glass(*). What else are you picking up?
(*Top Tip: The best way to smell the aromas hidden in your wine is to take a light whiff as if you were breathing slowly through your nose.)
We want to encourage you to go with your gut when you smell your wine. Wine is not about “being right”. While certain cultivars have distinctive aromas, each wine has its own unique bouquet of flavours to experience. Trust your nose!
Step 3: Know Your Sip
Now for the good part! Take a small sip and swirl it around in your mouth. There are a few elements of the palate to judge, as shown below.
Sweetness will typically only be present in dessert wines. The average wine, white or red, is not sweet at all.
Acidity refers to the “pucker” or tarteness of the wine in your mouth. This adds it’s crispness or freshness and is particularly present in dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc & Chenin Blanc
Tannin is the result of grape skins or stems that affects the wine’s texture long after the two have been separated. Tannin can also be found in wines that have been aged in wooden barrels. Tannin adds an astringency to the texture of the wine. The texture is often compared to that of very strong tea.
The body of the wine refers to its mouth-filling quality. Wine lovers have long been raving over full-bodied reds. These have typically been wooded and aged for a significant amount of time. Full-bodied white wines can get the same quality using similar techniques.
Flavour Characteristics refer to the taste profile of the wine. These are the apricots, berries, smoke or vanilla notes that experienced tasters can pick up so easily.
You can analyse each of these separately or choose just to focus on the flavour characteristics because that’s more fun 😉
And that’s it! If you follow these steps you’ll be well on your way to becoming a wine expert. Good luck on your tasting journey ahead.
Want to know more? All first-time customers are awarded with an informative WINE 101 poster! And if you love it, order again. Second orders are rewarded with WINE 102 posters! And so forth…