A Quick Guide to Wine Tasting Like the Experts
If you consider yourself a self-made wine connoisseur (or you're new to wine altogether), and you want to step up your wine tasting game, look no further! We're here to help guide you through the wine tasting process so you can titillate every last one of your wine-loving taste buds (and impress your friends and family in the process)!
4 steps to wine tasting
When you don't take the necessary wine tasting steps, you miss subtle notes and flavors and other key distinctions that are unique to each wine. Taking the time to follow these four important steps noted by Wine Folly will help you develop your wine palate and further develop your love of wine!
Step 1: Look
Looking at the wine means visually taking in it's appearance underneath neutral lighting. This can help you determine things such as "color, opacity, and viscosity (legs)." Color and opacity will help you figure out the age of the wine and the type of grape the winery used. White wines will become more yellow and red wines will lose their color as they age.
Testing the viscosity will give you a good idea of the alcohol content the wine holds. After giving your glass a proper swirl, the wine it leaves behind is referred to as the legs. The slower the wine flows down from the glass, the higher the viscosity and the higher the alcohol content.
Taking the time to take in what your wine looks like will help you determine what kind of wine you're dealing with before you taste it and help you differ it from other wines!
Step 2: Smell
When smelling your wine for the first time, it's important to consider a broad range of notes that you're picking up (don't get too specific). You can sort what you're smelling into three different categories:
- Primary aromas come from grapes and include "fruits, herbs and floral notes."
- Secondary aromas come from the wine-making process. Bread-like aromas mean yeast was involved.
- Tertiary aromas are derived from the aging process. This can include oak treatments that leave behind their own unique aromas.
Learn more about how to pick up different aromas here!
Step 3: Taste
"Taste is how we use our tongues to observe the wine, but also, once you swallow the wine, the aromas may change because you're receiving them retro-nasally." When you taste the wine, ensure that you swish it around a little as different parts of your tongue will pick up different flavors. You will inevitably pick up sweet, salty, bitter, or sour flavors. Because all wines are made from grapes (which are naturally acidic), they will all be somewhat sour. Different wines, though, will be known for their varying tastes.
The body of the wine will help you determine the texture of your wine (and the alcohol content). Additionally, the texture will tell you the age of the wine and the amount of tannin it contains. The older the wine, the more textured it will be. The more tannin in your wine, the more dry the wine will feel on your tongue or in the front of your mouth.
Consider the length of the wine. There will always be a beginning, middle (mid-palate) and end (finish) with every sip.
Step 4: Think
Thinking about the wine you just tasted can help you determine whether the wine was balanced or not, too acidic or just right, full-bodied or light. What stood out to you with this wine? Did anything make it unique to others? This is an important final step in wine tasting that helps you determine whether you liked it or not and what specifically you liked about it.
Practicing these steps ritually (no matter how cheap or expensive the wine) will help you become a better wine-taster and develop a more mature and sensitive palate, making wine tastings all the more fun!