A Lesson In Wine Tasting

With every state in the union having at least 1 winery, it’s no surprise that wine tasting has become a very popular social event. There is no shortage of wine tasting rooms and/or events to choose from, and just about anyone (those under the age of 21 excluded) is welcome to partake. While there is no specific set of rules as to how you must taste your wine, there are guidelines as to how you should taste your wine. This is to ensure that you are experiencing the wine’s characteristics as best as possible. Below is an explanation of how you can efficiently taste a wine, and hopefully not regret that bottle purchase later down the line.


Step 1. Tilt the wine in the glass towards the rim. What kind of color do you see? You can figure out the quality of a wine just by looking at the color. A white wine with a brown color, or a red wine with an orange color means the wine is probably not in its prime.

Step 2. Next, swirl the wine in the glass a bit. This will let oxygen into the wine, which will open up its aromas. This is where you will also see the “legs” of the wine. These are the streaks (or tears) that you will see around the body of the wine glass. This can indicate what the alcohol content of the wine is. If the legs are more pronounced, the alcohol content is higher. It can also indicate a higher sugar content.

wine swirl step

Step 3. At this point, sniff the inside of your glass, and note what you smell. Depending on the wine, you may get aromas of vanilla, chocolate, tropical fruit, flowers, pepper, or oak, etc.

Step 4. Now, it is time to taste. Take a small sip of wine into your mouth, and suck in a bit of air through pursed lips. Roll the wine around on your tongue, so you can assess the structure of the wine: if it’s a white, is it dry or sweet? If it’s a red, does it have a high tannin content (does it taste bitter)? What is the body like (how heavy does the liquid feel in your mouth)? Does it burn a bit, and taste highly alcoholic to you?

wine taste step

Step 5. After swallowing the wine, what is the aftertaste you get? This is what is called the finish. Do you feel like the flavors you get are well balanced with the structure (as described in #4 above)? If you do, this is a wine that you can purchase, and will enjoy. A successful wine tasting!

One last quick note. If you should find yourself doing a food and wine tasting, you might want to take a bite of the food before taking a sip of the wine. Then, after the wine sip, take another bite. This is the best way to experience how the wine and food compliment each other.