Hold the glass against a white light or background and note the color and clarity of the wine. White wines may range from pale yellow to amber gold.
Red wines can be inky purple and develop brown notes as they age.
Release the aromas by moving your glass in small circles to swirl the wine. After a few seconds of swirling, hold the glass up to your nose
and inhale. You
may notice citrus, and tropical fruit for white wines, or berries, dried fruit, and spice for red wines.
Take a sip of the wine, and swirl it your mouth for a moment. By slurping in a small amount of air along with the wine, we can use our sense of
to help our sense of taste. You may notice some of the five primary flavors ( sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami). For example, sweetness on the
tip of your tongue or slight bitterness from the tannins. Note the lingering impression that remains in your mouth after you swallow the wine.
This is called the "finish ," and can either be fairly short or quite long. The finish and sense of freshness are closely related to
the acidity of the wine.
A wine can be described as light, medium, or full. Take a sip of wine and focus on how it feels in your mouth. For example, Pinot Grigio will
likely feel very light, while Chardonnay will often have a somewhat "rounder" mouthfeel due to its fuller body.
Common Wine Flaws
A brick or rusted metal color is a sign of an oxidized wine. This is probably the most common wine fault and is not fixable. Oxidized wines
lose their freshness, color and flavor
A musty old attic smell and taste like a wet newspaper is an unfixable flaw. Wines that exhibit this characteristic are said to be "corked".
A smell like burnt matches suggests that the wine was bottled with a strong dose of sulfur dioxide. A vigorous swirling may help fix or
reduce this flaw.
Nail polish, glue or varnish smell may be the result of microbes producing ethyl acetate. Low levels can add richness and sweetness
to your wine but high concentrations will probably turn it undrinkable.
A smell of vinegar indicates volatile acidity, and is the result of acetic acid. Small concentrations may be intended by the winemaker.
High concentrations can be the result bacteria and may degrade your wine completely
Sweaty saddle scents are produced by Brettanomyces ( a type of yeast). Small concentrations give red wines an earthy, leathery component. High concentrations
be unpleasant and ruin the overall experience.
Why is tasting important?
Knowing how to taste wine can greatly enhance how much you enjoy and share your wine experience. The key is to actively engage your senses of
sight, smell, taste and and touch.
Learning to identify common flaws is as important as identifying desirable characteristics. The key is to look for off-aromas and flavors.
Mentally combine your impressions of the wine's appearance, aromas, taste, body, and finish. Most good wines will have
balance among all the elements, and each aspect of the wine will be well-integrated and in harmony.