How to Taste Wine Step by Step
Look: Use this step to get in the mindset of tasting. Look at the shade of color and opacity. How does it compare to other wines of the same varietal? Is it darker? More intense? Harder to see through? Take a mental snapshot for later, these hints will show how bold, rich and viscous the wine is. Here are two charts that can help you develop a baseline: Red Wine Colors & White Wine Colors
Smell: Time to pay attention. Identifying smells beforehand makes tasting flavors in wine easier. Start by swirling the glass to aerate the wine and release its aromas. To swirl a glass, place it flat on a table and move your hand as though you are drawing tiny circles with the base. Now stick your nose in there and take a big sniff. What do you smell? Refer to Red & Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine to get ideas.
Taste: Who doesn’t love this step? Take a mouthwash size sip and briefly swish it around your mouth to make sure it coats your entire tongue before you swallow. Think about the flavors, textures and body of the wine. Is it sharp? Does it make your tongue feel dry? Do the flavors match the smells from earlier? Can you name a fruit, mineral or spice? Does it have an alcohol burn? Revisit smelling the wine after your first sip to help formulate any conclusions (guesses are ok too!).
Swallow/Spit: Oh my. Have you ever rationalized swallowing because you’d hate to waste wine? There are some good reasons to spit. Maybe the wine doesn’t suit your taste or you want to save yourself for better wine. Maybe you need to drive. Or better yet, maybe you want to be sober enough to actually taste all the wines at a tasting. As long as you’re safe, we won’t judge you either way. If you’re tasting 20 wines in a day you might want to learn how to spit.
Think: Too many guides focus on the superficial nuances of wine tasting. Wine tasting is a head game. Confidence and bold assertion can often make someone look like a pro who actually knows nothing. Don’t be afraid to pipe up and offer your suggestions! There are no wrong answers.. Although, if every wine smells like burnt toast you might want to see a doctor.