The 3 Basic Steps to Properly Tasting Wine

Properly serving and properly tasting a bottle of wine can be a major influential factor when determining if a wine is good or bad. Even though everyone has unique tastes and preferences and the quality of the wine is totally subjective, there are still three basic steps that wine professionals and wine sommeliers practice to refine their palates and sharpen their ability to recall wines. These three steps are very simple to understand. They can help you get a greater understanding of the different wine varieties available and most importantly, will increase your pleasure when drinking your wine. Only by properly tasting your wine can you determine what is actually your style. The right way to taste wine involves the senses of sight, smell, and taste all with the goal of finding a wine that best suits your palate.

This article will help you learn how to taste and evaluate a glass of wine like a real wine sommelier by teaching you the three basic steps of wine tasting. Once you go over this post, you will be ready to join one of the best wine clubs for beginners and get the full experience. 


The first step when judging wine is examining how the wine looks when it is poured into a glass. To evaluate the true appearance and color of the wine you first need to place it against a white surface under good and natural light. The wine must be poured into a clear clean glass. When examining the wine, you need to look for color, opacity, and viscosity. The first time you will need to do is look down into the glass and hold the glass to the light. The next step is to swirl the glass and let the wine roll toward its edges. This way you can see the complete color range and not just the center. The color of the wine will give a clue about the wine’s density and saturation. Specific grapes can be identified by their color and scent. The clearness of the wine is also an important sign, a clear and smooth look can tell if the wine is good. Murky or unfiltered wine can be an indication of chemical or fermentation problems. You can even determine the wine’s age and weight by its look. Pale and watery wine is usually thin and not flavorful, orange or brown wines are older wines or wines that have been oxidized or maybe past their prime. The swirl of the wine will tell you if the wine forms so-called legs or tears. Legs are formed when the wine runs down the sides of the glass. Good legs mean the wine has higher alcohol or glycerin content, these wines are riper, more mouth-filling, and dense. You can tell a lot about the wine by its appearance however, you cannot tell if the wine is good or bad just by the way it looks.

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Somewhere between 75 and 95 % of what we commonly think is taste is actually the sense of smell. This goes the same for wine, after you examine the look of the wine, the second step is to smell it. For the second step, you also need a good swirl, you will need to place your nose on the top of the glass and take a few quick sniffs. After you give a good sniff try to identify the dominant scent. The smell of the wine can be divided into three primary categories. Primary aromas are commonly grape-derivative and can give fruity, herbal, or floral notes. Secondary aromas are yeast-derivative and can give notes of cheese rind, nut husk (almond, peanut), and even stale beer notes. And tertiary aromas or wine barrel aromas come from aging. The most common aromas are roasted nuts, baking spices, vanilla, autumn leaves, old tobacco, cured leather, cedar, and even coconut.


Finally, the most important step is taste. Before you try the wine make sure you have a clean palate, good palate cleansers are plain white bread, French bread, crackers, tortilla chips, olives, cheese, and if nothing else is working room temperature water. Once you make sure your palate is clean you can take a small sip, and circulate it throughout your mouth. First, try to identify the flavor it can have a wide range of fruit, flower, herbal, mineral, barrel, and many other flavors. Then determine if the wine is well balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete. A well-balanced wine should have its basic flavor components in good proportion. There should be a good balance between the flavors. Residual sugar and acidity mainly determine if the wine is sweet or sour. The bitterness of the wine comes from the tannin level. The term harmonious wine means the wine has all of its flavors seamlessly integrated. Meaning you can identify all the components but they are seamlessly blended together. Complex wines are harder to identify and they usually change while you are tasting them. The flavors that make the wine complex are very ripe, jammy fruit, and strong vanilla flavors. The age of the wine is a good indication of its complexity. A good complete wine should be all of the above, it should be well balanced, harmonious, complex, and evolved, with a lingering, satisfying finish.


Now that you know all the steps all you need is to practice. Go to your local supermarket or join a wine club and explore the different wine palates. Try wines with contrasting characteristics to best determine your style and preferences. And most important enjoy your wine.


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