How to Taste Wine

Wine is different from most other beverages. Its complexity of flavours and aromas and the unique way it behaves makes it one of the most fascinating beverages in the world.  A quality bottle of wine will change, evolve, and may even get better with age.  Learning to really taste wine will help you appreciate and understand the wine you are drinking.

You may be thinking to yourself, “l know how to taste wine. I take a sip and I swallow it!”  Well, that’s great if you’re drinking pop or orange juice, but if you’re interested in discovering more about the beautiful liquid that is wine then you need to be aware that there’s a difference between “tasting” wine and “drinking” wine.  Tasting wine involves consciously thinking about and analyzing the aromas, flavours, and textures you experience with the wine.  The more practice you get identifying and articulating what you experience with the wine, the easier it will become, and the more you will remember about each wine.

Although tasting wine the way the pros do may look a bit silly to most, with all the sucking and swishing and spitting, you can learn a great deal about wine if you pay attention to a few details.  Wine tasting techniques will also help you discover the wine styles you like best and why.  A look at the colour and clarity and a quick sniff of the wine in the glass will also let you know if the wine is sound or faulty (ex: cork taint).

There are 3 main senses you’ll be using when you taste wine:


A look at the wine in the glass can give you some information about what you are about to taste.  A wine in good condition should be clear without haze or cloudiness.  The colour of the wine can also give you an indication of the grape variety and even a hint as to the age of the wine.

Go to Looking at a Wine


A wine’s smell (also called the nose in wine-speak), will give you more information than just looking at it or even tasting it.  The first quick smell of the wine should tell you if the wine is in good condition or if there is a fault present.  A wine that smells “bad” is probably faulty.  Further sniffs of the wine should be deeper so you can identify the aromas present.  You will start to understand the wine’s style and character, and you will start to learn not only what you like, but why you like it.

Go to Smelling the Wine


Believe it or not, your taste buds don’t tell you as much about the wine as your sense of smell does.  In fact, you can’t taste anything if you can’t smell it.  Just think back to when you’ve had a bad cold.  However, tasting will add to the information you have already discovered, and will tell you about the weight and texture of the wine in your mouth and any flavours present.

If you are tasting many wines and still want to have your wits about you then it’s best to spit out the wine instead of swallowing it.  Don’t worry, all the pros do it and its quite acceptable.  It doesn’t (necessarily) mean you don’t like the wine.

Go to Tasting the Wine

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