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How to Taste Wine


How to Taste Wine Like an Expert

Tasting wine is arguably the single most important part of enjoying wine. Unfortunately, over time ‘proper tasting’ has become a trademark for holier than thou snobbery that runs rampant within wine culture. There is an intimidating expectation that there is a right way to taste wine, which usually includes unnecessary showmanship and vernacular. This guide focuses on practical techniques guaranteed to make you an awesome wine taster.

Wine Tasting

You already have a lot of clues about a wine including its varietal, vintage and producer. These clues will all help give you an expectation for what a wine should taste like. Certain fruit flavors are more common or even exclusive to certain wine varietals. The more you pay attention to each flavor the more refined your taste becomes. Identifying how a range of different wines taste comes with practice and experimentation. Tasting wine builds a catalog of images, smells, and flavors.

Where has your mouth been? If you just finished choking down a Big Mac and a half carton of cigarettes you’re going to have a bad time tasting wine. Make sure your mouth is clean and that you’re well hydrated. Don’t brush your teeth immediately before wine tasting, not only will it be harder to taste wine it might actually increase the chances of staining your teeth.

How to Taste Wine Step by Step

Look: Use this step to get in the mindset of tasting. Look at the shade of color and opacity. How does it compare to other wines of the same varietal? Is it darker? More intense? Harder to see through? Take a mental snapshot for later, these hints will show how bold, rich and viscous the wine is.

Smell: Time to pay attention. Identifying smells beforehand makes tasting flavors in wine easier. Start by swirling the glass to aerate the wine and release its aromas. To swirl a glass, place it flat on a table and move your hand as though you are drawing tiny circles with the base. Now stick your nose in there and take a big sniff. What do you smell? Refer to Red & Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine to get ideas.

Taste: Who doesn’t love this step? Take a mouthwash size sip and briefly swish it around your mouth to make sure it coats your entire tongue before you swallow. Think about the flavors, textures and body of the wine. Is it sharp? Does it make your tongue feel dry? Do the flavors match the smells from earlier? Can you name a fruit, mineral or spice? Does it have an alcohol burn? Revisit smelling the wine after your first sip to help formulate any conclusions (guesses are ok too!).

Swallow/Spit: Oh my. Have you ever rationalized swallowing because you’d hate to waste wine? There are some good reasons to spit. Maybe the wine doesn’t suit your taste or you want to save yourself for better wine. Maybe you need to drive. Or better yet, maybe you want to be sober enough to actually taste all the wines at a tasting. As long as you’re safe, we won’t judge you either way. If you’re tasting 20 wines in a day you might want to learn how to spit.

Think: Too many guides focus on the superficial nuances of wine tasting. Wine tasting is a head game. Confidence and bold assertion can often make someone look like a pro who actually knows nothing. Don’t be afraid to pipe up and offer your suggestions! There are no wrong answers.. Although, if every wine smells like burnt toast you might want to see a doctor.

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