How To Taste Wine

If you are new to the world of wine, knowing how to taste wine may be confusing. Tasting wine is different than drinking wine. When you drink wine you are doing it for enjoyment with no other agenda. When you taste wine your purpose is to discover a wine's nature to the fullest possible extent. You may find that this information enhances your appreciation when ultimately drinking the wine. If you are interested in learning how to taste wine, here are some tips. 

  1. The first step in tasting wine is actually to simply observe it. Pour a small amount of wine from the bottle into your glass and look at it. Place the glass on a white background (a cloth napkin or tablecloth will do fine) and check out its color. You will notice that white wines are really various shades of yellow and red wines are really various shades of purple, red and brown. Determine what color you see in the wine.

  • Pale white wines are usually newer wines. As white wines age, they get darker.
  • The purple hue in some reds is often a sign of young wine. Red wines tend toward the browner hues as they age.

  • The next step in tasting wine is to swirl the wine in a circular motion in the glass. This allows oxygen to get in the wine and helps to release the aroma of the wine.
  • Once you have swirled, it's time to sniff.  You are sniffing to see what type of "nose" the wine has. Nose is wine-speak for smell. Stick your nose right into your glass and breathe in its aroma. At first the only thing you may smell is wine. That's okay! After a while of doing this with different wines, you will begin to detect various aromas such as fruit, wood, spice, flowers and countless other fascinating substances. It takes practice to recognize these smells.
  • Finally, it is time to taste the wine. Actually, you need to sip it. Allow the wine to stay in your mouth so that you can get a full sense of its complex flavor. Is it sweet? Acidic? Smooth? Bold? Earthy? Leathery? Do you detect fruit? If so, what kinds of fruit? Can you taste any oak? The flavor of a wine can be endlessly complex.
  • After you have given your taste buds the chance to test out the wine, you can either swallow it or spit it out. If you only taste one wine and continue to drink the same wine, you might as well swallow. If you are tasting more than one wine, you may want to consider spitting it out. You don't want to impair your tasting judgment by getting tipsy.
  • The final step is to determine if you liked what you tasted or not. This is really the most important part of tasting wine - determining your personal preferences. If you liked the wine and no one else did, don't be afraid to state your opinion.
  • If you are going to taste a number of wines at once, it is recommended that you start with the light whites then move on to the heavier whites. Then continue with the light reds and finally move on to the heavier reds. Rinse your glass between each wine and take a sip of water to cleanse your palate.

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