When you taste a wine at home your main goal should be enjoyment. With that aim in mind, learning how to taste wine step by step is a great way to figure out what you love.
Professional sommeliers are trained in what’s known as deductive tasting—the ability to taste a wine and discern its grape, origin, and approximate age by flavor and scent alone. Sommeliers blind taste wines in competitions and to earn advanced certificates. Day to day, sommeliers use their tasting skills to choose wines and recommend pairings.
These are the steps wine professionals take to evaluate a glass of wine. At home, information about where the wine is from and how it was made is readily to you. You don’t need to play a guessing game, but following these steps can help you get deeping your appreciation for wine.
Examine the wine in the glass
Before you take a sip, tilt your glass to the side and look at the color of the wine. Notice shade and intensity. The color can tell you about the type of grape and the age of the wine. Young white wines are bright and clear. Aged white wines will take on a brownish hue. As red wine ages, the red color fades to a rusty brown. Different grapes also have different hues. Malbec is known for its deep purple shade, and Pinot Grigio can be detected by a slightly salmon tint.
Swirl the wine around the glass to aerate it, and inhale deeply. Don’t be shy! You’ll get the most out of this if you really stick your nose into the glass. Search for fruit, herb, and earth aromas.
Tip: Try tasting two similar wines side by side, like a French and a Californian Chardonnay. Comparing the glasses will help you appreciate their differences.
Taste the wine
Take a sip of wine and notice the tannins and acidity. A high-acid wine will make your mouth water, and a high-tannin wine will create a drying sensation. Pay attention to how the aromas change as you sip and swallow the wine.
Consider the flavor
Take a second to really think about the wine. Do you like it? Would you rather drink it outside at the beach, or inside during a snowstorm? Don’t be afraid to get creative with your descriptions.
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