If you’ve never done a wine tasting before, there is nothing to be intimidated by. While there is no true right or wrong way to taste wine, there are a few tips to help you enjoy the entire experience and get the full effect of the wine. Many people know these as the 5 S’s of wine tasting. Any time you are trying a new wine, make sure to follow our wine tasting guide.
Take note of the color of wine, but also the opacity and viscosity of the wine. To do so pour the wine into a glass and tilt at a 45 degree angle. The more you learn about the colors of wine, the more you can use its appearance as clues as to the variety of grape, how heavy or light the wine will be, the age, and more. Most of these things can also be determined by the bottle so this step doesn’t require much time. Often times your wine tasting will be guided or you will have a server that can answer any questions you have about the wine.
Swirling the wine aerates the wine. This process adds oxygen to the wine and each distinct aroma attaches itself to the oxygen. The saying you “taste” wine with your nose comes from the subtle aromas that can only be smelt. Swirling wine also eliminates any foul smelling compounds that may stem from sulfides or sulfites. There is a proper swirling technique in order to reduce mess. Pinch the base of the glass’s stem with your thumb and pointer finger. Then draw little circles while keeping the glass planted on the table. A few controlled swirls are adequate and swirling doesn’t need to be a lengthy process.Swirling sometimes enhances the color so you may want to repeat step one and observe the colors of the wine again.
Many people know this step but few perform it correctly. To get the full effect of the wine aromas you must practice proper wine smelling techniques. To properly sniff the wine, you will want to take several short sniffs while keeping your mouth open. As we all know, taste and smell are connected so to fully experience the smell you want to keep your mouth slightly open as well. Many will sniff then swirl then sniff again which is perfectly appropriate. Remember while you are handling your glass, always grab it by the stem. Holding it by the bowl will warm up the wine, which is exactly why stems on wine glasses were designed.
This isn’t a race to get tipsy. You don’t want to chug or shoot or wine tasting. Instead take a slightly larger than normal sip and let the wine sit in your mouth for 3-5 seconds so you can take in all of the flavors. Wine often has hidden flavors that are less bold, but definitely significant. Swirl the wine gently around in your mouth. Then after you fully enjoyed the 5 seconds swallow and savor the after tastes of the wine. Note if there is an alcohol taste as there shouldn’t be and notice how long the flavor stays with you. If you are wanting to taste several wines without getting too tipsy there is always an option to spit out the wine after tasting it. This is perfectly acceptable and will not be frowned upon.
Now it’s your turn to put your own style on the wine tasting. Make it a romantic affair with your significant other or fun time with friends. Wine tastings are all about you. They are designed to help you learn what you like, try new things and explore the variances of wine. Never be too shy, make it your own experience.
Feel free to ask questions about the wine you are tasting. The origins of wine and the grapes are always intriguing and can enhance your wine tasting experience. Most importantly enjoy yourself. Don’t stress too much about being “proper” as everyone puts their own style on wine tasting. Wine tasting is a judge-free zone.