How to Taste Wine Like a Pro: A Beginner's Guide to Wine Tasting by 30Seconds Food

2 years ago

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro: A Beginner's Guide to Wine Tasting

Most magic shows are mere illusions and sleight of hand. However, once you know the secret to the trick, the magician loses his flair and mystique, and the trick becomes another sideshow. The same can be said for wine tasters, with their suave looks and seemingly magical taste buds.

With 328.9 million cases of wine being sold in the U.S. in 2020, wine tastings have become a popular pastime. This wine tasting beginner’s guide reveals tricks and secrets to wine tasting so you can look suave while putting your taste buds to work.

The Five S's

If you are in a wine-loving country and you have chosen to visit some vineyards, the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself in front of the wine geeks around. The five S’s give you the information you need to be able to pass as a wine expert.

Class is in session, so grab yourself a bottle of Sassicaia wine and let’s get this show on the road.

1. See

Tasting wine is an experience, like listening to music or admiring art. Before the wine can scintillate your taste buds, you need to register how it makes you feel visually. You must have a clear glass to properly evaluate the wine and judge its appearance against a clear background. The wine’s clarity, hue and color are some of the things to consider.

2. Swirl

It makes no difference whether it's white, red or rosé wine, seeing is not enough and you need more visual data. This necessitates the need to swirl the wine. The wine swirl increases the surface area and allows you to perceive some escaped aroma. You have the option to swirl the wine freely in the air or on the table if you want to avoid spilling. When you are done swirling, notice how quickly the wine slides down the glass, or the wine’s viscosity.

3. Sniff

You can’t let your eyes have all the fun, so this is where your nose joins the party. Ideally, you should hold the wine some inches from your nose and let your nose dive half an inch toward the wine glass. Gently sniff the wine. You should pick up notes of aroma this close, and continue to swirl the wine if you don’t pick up any scent. If the wine does not smell good, it is highly unlikely that it will taste any better.

The following are some of the most common scents you might pick up during the swirl:

  • Hard to place scents: These are characteristic of older wines. They usually have pleasant old smells that you can’t figure out, so don’t try too hard to pick out a scent.
  • Herbal or floral scents: These are present in many reds, but more prevalent in white wines.
  • Fruity aromas: Fruits like peaches or pears for white wines, and cherries or berries for red wine.
  • Spices: The most common spices in wine are chocolate, vanilla, pepper and sometimes cinnamon. These unique smells are usually from the barrels used to age the wines.
  • Earthy scents: These are common in top-shelf white wines, and they include earthy, rocky and mineral scents.

4. Sip

Finally, the tasting itself. The major difference between drinking wine and tasting is expectorating. Expose the wine to all the taste buds in your mouth by rolling and slushing it around. Pay attention to the weight of the wine, the sensations in your mouth and the most prominent (standout) flavors. If you will be tasting different wines, you can use the spittoon. Getting drunk during a wine tasting is a big no-no, especially if you will be driving later.

5. Savor

This is simply taking all the information from the steps above to profile the wine. You are grading the wine on the sweetness, texture and richness of its aroma. Savoring the wine is like entering points on your mental scoreboard.

Proper Wine-Tasting Conditions

Before you can be on your merry way to tasting wine or hosting your wine tasting, you must ensure proper wine tasting conditions. A proper wine tasting environment should check the following boxes:

  • The room must not be noisy or crowded.
  • Space must be odor free (no cooking smells, perfumes, pet odor, etc.).
  • You should use a clear, sizeable wine glass.

There is much more to wine tasting, but you now know the basics. These tips should be enough to help you hold your head up high at any wine tasting. Now go have fun tasting some wine! 

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Elisa Schmitz
I love this! My husband and I went to Napa Valley on our honeymoon and had so much fun visiting the vineyards there. We enjoyed many memorable wine tastings, and this article covers so many great tips to help ensure successful tastings! #cheers Dieter Schmitz Donna John
Donna John
I went to Napa Valley a few years ago with my daughter and mom. So much fun. I'm making plans tonight to go in a couple of weeks to California for my daughter's birthday. Will definitely be hitting some vineyards while I'm there. Great tips here! I've noticed that I pay a lot more attention these days to the color of wine. When it comes out murky and off color, even if it tastes OK, it's not going to be bought again.
Elisa Schmitz
I agree, Donna John . So excited (and jealous!) that you're going to hit the vineyards soon. Have a great time seeing your daughter!
I really want to learn more about wines. This is a great primer.
I love rose wine especially in the summer 🍷

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