How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

Wine is such a timeless beverage enjoyed by civilizations for thousands of years. You don't have to be a professionally trained sommelier to enjoy wine for all it has to offer. With a few wine-tasting tips you might be pleasantly surprised to discover new bouquets for your ever-expanding palette.

1. Look at It

There is an art to swirling the wine in the glass. You can detect the proper color and viscosity of the wine with your naked eye. The "legs" of the wine, or how it sticks to the side of the glass, are a sign of how it will linger in your throat. A wine with a lesser sugar content will have lesser leg "stickiness" in the glass.

2. Smell It

After aerating the wine by swirling it within the glass, or letting it sit in a decanter, hold it to your lips and without drinking it, inhale with your nose. Later you'll take a small sip and again, swirl it within your mouth to help determine mouth-feel as well as any undertones you might have missed otherwise.

There are primary aromas are grape-derived based on the varietal. Secondary aromas are derived from the winemaking practices, commonly through yeast processes. The tertiary aromas come from aging in either oak or steel barrels.

3. Taste It

Climate and soil affect the taste of the wine—whether red or white. Acidic overtones, citrus, berry, or herbal overtones are not uncommon. You cannot smell sweetness, but you can experience it as you taste the wine. Your tongue can perceive the texture of the wine based on the alcohol content. A higher alcohol content comes from a riper grape. We perceive wine with a higher ethanol content as "rich". A wine high in tannins feels like a drying sensation, typical of red wine. Lastly, wine taste is time-based with a beginning, middle, and end, or finish. Sometimes these are three very different experiences as you taste it.

4. Note It

As you go through your tasting, be sure to write down your experience of it. Was it dry or sweet? Was it floral or herbal? What did it make you think of or feel? What do you think it will pair well with? Would you have it again or buy it as a gift? Is it an everyday wine or special occasion wine? Keep notes and keep consistent with your parameters so you can refer to it later on without questioning your judgement.