How To Taste Wine Like A Professional

Sep 27th 2018

Wine is bottled poetry and there are hundreds and thousands of stories online about how to taste wine like a professional. You don't need to be a Sommelier or Wine Director to taste wine like a pro. Anyone can taste wine like a pro! Wine tasting, at its core, is just a process with three steps -- look, smell, and taste. Next thing you know, that's it!

Before we get started on the steps of tasting wines like professionals, let us first ask ourselves: what is the purpose?

Good question! Wine tasting for the first time is more or less like a blind date. We are curious to find out if it is a match for us and is it worth the effort. Whatever the reason, simply grab a glass of the wine you love and let us now get back to work. Let’s do this.

Step One: Look

The way a wine appears is enough to give you sufficient clues about what is stored in for you. One helpful hint is, hold out the wine glass and tilt it slightly while looking at the wine.

It is always good to hold the wine over a pale or white surface such as a plain white plate, white table cloth, or napkin. The point is to experience the color depth from the rim to the glass center. As a general rule of thumb, the wine is more concentrated if the colors are richer and deeper. Dark hued and inky Bordeaux are usually going to be lower in acid, intense, and mouth filing.

For young Bordeaux wines, they must be dark, rich, and good to reveal color depth from the rim to the glass center. Young wines that don't have good color are usually lighter, more acidic in style, and less ripe. Young Bordeaux styled or young Bordeaux wines with light colors are probably going to have a light flavor, with brighter in acidity and more red fruits than black.

The next step in a wine's visual evaluation is the tears or legs on the glass sides. The size of the legs or tears and the duration of time they stay in the glass provide a good enough glimpse into the sweetness, viscosity, and potential alcohol level of the wine. Less concentrated and lighter wines usually reveal thin legs that tend to dissipate rather quickly while rich and concentrated wines that are usually characterized by fatter and athletics legs reveal lots of length, fruits, and sweetness.

Step Two: Smell

Believe it or not, about 80 to 90 percent of the taste of your wine is derived from the smell. You must ideally swirl the glass before taking a sniff. Swirling oxygenate the wine to help it release its beautiful scents into the air. This act also coats the glass at the same very time.

It is important to keep the glass anchored while swirling to prevent any possible spillage. For some, inhaling deeply is the way to go while some enjoy having small and short sniffs. To detect more complex aromas, it is a good practice to keep your mouth slightly open when inhaling and exhaling the scent.

The wine is most likely corked if it smells like a wet newspaper or musty old attic. It is extremely easy to evaluate broad aromas and starting with broad categories is always the best way to go.

Aromas of herbs, floral, and fruits are the primary ones that come from the grapes themselves while cheese, nuts, and yeast are secondary aromas that come from wine making and aromas of vanilla, leather, tobacco, and spices are the tertiary ones that are associated with the aging process.

Step Three: Taste

Now that we know how to look and smell wines, it is finally time to taste them!

Tasting wine is more than just the primary sensations of salt, sour, sweet, bitter, and Umami (the fifth taste). Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the length and texture of the experience.

You assess the balance of wine, structure, character, and level of sweetness, complexity, length of the finish, acidity, and palate feel when tasting wines. Was the wine full or light bodied? Was it dusty and rough? Was the wine velvety and smooth? A wine is better if provides good, enjoyable, and longer flavors in the mouth. There will be multiple sensations and flavors present at once if it is complex. The ideal wine should not stick to your teeth and it should also not feel like water in the mouth.

Now that you can taste like a pro, which bottle of wine are you going to open? Grab a glass and get tasting now!