This post will answer some of the most common and basic questions surrounding proper wine tasting. Questions like, swirl or smell first? And why swirl at all?! How do you smell and why do people stick their noses in the glass?! What about that first sip? Do you take a big sip, or little, and why? We’ll go over all these questions and more!
I’ve laid everything out in a full length YouTube video here.
But you can catch the highlights in this shorter video:
You can easily break down proper wine tasting into 4 steps:
1.) The See: First, grab something white. You can use a napkin, plate, tablecloth or menu. If you don’t have anything white near you, hold your wine up to the light and tip the glass sideways so you can see the wine thinned out. Here you are looking for color and clarity. As red wines age, the color lessens and as white wine ages, the color intensifies. Next see if the wine is clear or hazy. You also want to observe the ‘legs’ of the wine. After your glass is tipped over, sit it upright and observe how the wine runs down the glass. Does it leave long slow streaks? Or does it run straight down? This will give you an idea of the body of the wine. Slow long streaks indicate a fuller bodied wine.
2.) The Smell (and swirl): Next you want to swirl and smell your wine. Swirl first! The purpose of swirling is to expose the wine to more oxygen. This helps open the aromas and bouquet of the wine. Hold the stem of your wine glass like a pencil and ‘draw’ small circles for 15-20 seconds. After your wine is sufficiently swirled, get your nose way down in the glass and get a big sniff. This is the ‘nose’ or the ‘bouquet’ of the wine. Try to pick out a few scents, or even just generalize the overall smell. Are you getting more fruit smells or Earth scents? Go from there!
3.) The Sip: The first sip of wine is going to tell you a lot. You want your first sip to be a bigger sip than average. Coat the whole inside of your mouth, really swirl the wine around for a few seconds. You want the wine to cover all of your taste buds so you can get an accurate sense of the wine. After your first sip, think about the flavors you’re getting. Again, just try to decide if you’re getting more Earth flavors (dirt, minerals, stone, herbs, etc.) or more fruit flavors. Wine can have hundreds of flavors, this will just give you a starting point. After your initial sip, take 2 or 3 small sips and try to hone in on the specific flavors your picking up on.
4.) The Savor: The final step in wine tasting is the ‘savor’. This is where you consider what you just tasted. It is really the conclusion or the finale of the sip! Think about how it leaves your mouth tasting and feeling. This is where I also think about savoring the moment… I’ve said all along that wine is more than a drink, it is an experience.
I had so much fun doing this post and shooting my first video! A very special thanks to the Messina Hof Tasting room in downtown Grapevine! They have some UH-MAZING TEXAS wine! (I was sipping on their GSM in the videos)
Lastly, I didn’t think this post would be complete without a few outtakes!