How do you taste wine?
Tasting wine involves three distinct actions: look, smell, and taste. Doing these in turn will help you experience wine in its entirety, using your senses in combination to understand the flavours and texture.
The more wines you taste, the more you will learn about spotting the subtle differences between different grapes and years, helping you pinpoint exactly which combination of factors is your favourite.
With our help, you can go from civilian to sommelier in the popping of a cork.
Once you’ve opened the bottle and poured a glass, take a look at your wine from a few different angles. Try to find somewhere with good lighting, and avoid any backgrounds (such as wallpaper or curtains) that are particularly patterned – you want as uninterrupted a view of your wine as possible.
Look from above and the side so you can see the depth of the colour and how clear the liquid is. You want it as clear as possible with a hint of a shine to it.
Note that red wine in particular usually has a bit of sediment that will appear at the bottom of the glass. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Coupled with a bad smell (we’ll come to that later), it could be a warning sign, but alone this is fine.
Tilt the glass to see the difference between the outer layer of the liquid as well as the rich core of it. When the wine reaches higher up the sides of the glass, you will be able to see if it forms ‘legs’: streaks of liquid that fall down the glass. This indicates a greater alcohol and glycerine content, and therefore means it is full-bodied.
You can also check this by placing the glass on a flat surface and swirling it gently to make the liquid dance. Seasoned pros may be able to do this holding the glass aloft, but while you’re getting used to it, a flat surface will prevent spillages.
The colour of the wine is also important for checking quality. White wines that have started to turn will come out of the bottle a dark yellow shade, whereas red wines can look brown. Much like excess sediment, these will only indicate a bad wine when paired with other symptoms, such as an ‘off’ smell.