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TheWineBuyingGuide.com

Wine Tasting 101: How to Taste Wine

Learn how to taste wine in 5 simple steps.

By: Kristin Anderson, Editor, TheWineBuyingGuide.com
How to Taste Wine
How to Taste Wine
This image courtesy of thewinebuyingguide.com

Learning how to taste wine will help you develop your wine palate, savor the wines you drink, and even blend in at a wine tasting (if necessary!). The steps to wine tasting are simple, and they are used by everyone from wine novices to sommeliers. As you become a more experienced wine drinker, wine tasting becomes even more fun and interesting!

There are five basic steps to wine tasting. The steps are designed to help you appreciate the look, smell, and taste of a good wine. The goal is also to help you have a great overall experience.

These steps are arranged so that you can have a great wine tasting at your home. Step 1 will already be handled if you are attending a tasting at a winery or other event. However, tasting great wine in the comfort of your home should be just as much fun as going out to an event. For one thing, you don't have to worry about finding a ride home, which is always a bonus!

Enjoy tasting wine with these simple tips. And don't forget to download our printable wine tasting notes worksheet!

It's easy to keep track of what you taste with this handy printable.

Steps in Wine Tasting

First: Set the Stage

Make sure that the conditions are right for your wine tasting. If you are in a room with strong smells like cooking aromas or perfume, you may not be able to get a clear sense of the wine’s aromas. Also, be sure that the wine is in the correct glass for its variety, and that the glass is clean. Ensure that your wine is being served at the correct temperature and that it has been decanted if necessary.

Second: Look

Look at the color and clarity of the wine. If you’re trying to discern what type of wine you are drinking, looking through the side and at a tilt will give you more clues as to the varietal. For the casual drinker, look for your own enjoyment and to see that the wine is clear. Give the glass a swirl and notice if the wine forms “legs” that run down the side of the glass.

Tip: If you’re worried about sloshing wine, keep the base of the glass firmly on the table while swirling.

Third: Smell

Swirl your glass again and sniff by placing your nose just at the rim of the glass (no need to bury your nose in it). Try a few short sniffs, and then try to identify at least 2 flavors.

Here are some examples of flavors you might find in red wine: raspberry, vanilla, herbal, spicy, earthy.

White wine: floral, citrus, tropical fruits, hay/grass.
 

Fourth: Taste

Take a sip from your glass. There are 2 main components to a wine’s taste: structure and flavor. The structure includes characteristics such as the level of sweetness, body, acidity, and tannin. The flavors are similar to what you identified while sniffing the wine (raspberry, citrus, spice, etc.), but you may taste different or additional flavors when you actually take a sip.

The “length” and “finish” of the wine are also worth thinking about. Length describes how long the wine taste lingers on your palate after you’ve swallowed. Was the length long, moderate, or short? The “finish” describes the last texture or flavor in your mouth at the end of a sip. How did the wine taste at the end of your sip?
 

Fifth: Reflect

Did you like the wine? Did the flavors seem balanced to you? What flavors did you like? Did you like the structure of the wine? Make notes and discuss with your fellow tasters. Remember that everyone’s palate is different, and so it’s possible for people to taste different flavors in the same wine. Hearing about your fellow tasters’ experience is a great way to learn more about wine and how to taste wine.

Enjoy the rest of your wine tasting event! Now that you know the basics of how to taste wine, you can enjoy a variety of wine tasting events and parties. Even the relaxing glass at home may be a little more special.

How do you taste wine? Tell us your favorite tips in the comments below!

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I've attended a wine tasting before and I was shocked at how many steps came before you actually put the wine in your mouth! Thanks to these great tips, I can now recreate the experience at home.

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