Wine tasting excites the senses and stimulates conversations. It teaches you what you love or hate about a certain wine. It trains you to hone your senses and truly understand what’s in your glass. Whether you just popped the cork on that bottle you’ve been dying to try, or you’re getting ready for your next wine tour this weekend, there are 5 simple rules of wine tasting that are guaranteed to elevate your experience. Once you understand how to truly assess a glass of wine and understand its hidden notes, wine tasting is a skill you’ll never leave behind. Let’s get started.
Before tasting, take careful note of the wine’s color and clarity. These two factors can tell you a lot about your drink, including age, flavor, whether it was aged in wood, and more. Generally, the intensity of the color corresponds to the intensity of the flavor. Typically white wine gains color as it ages, while red wine loses color over time. Pay attention to the cloudiness as well. If you can read through your wine, you’re sipping a highly-filtered beverage. Over time you’ll find if you prefer a high or low amount of filtration in your glass.
Swirling your glass is step #2 for a couple of reasons. First, you’re allowing oxygen to open up the wine. Keep the base of your wine glass on the table and holding it by the stem, gently swirl it in small circles. As you allow the wine to aerate and the flavors to intensify, pay attention to how the wine interacts with the walls of your glass. This is the second reason for swirling. Do you notice smooth, watery movements? Or are almost syrupy streaks being left on the side of the glass? Paying attention to the viscosity of your wine will give you more hints at your personal preference.
Let this step take place just as the gentle whirlpool in your glass begins to settle. Take in the aroma—this is going to be your primary sense in wine tasting—and do so mindfully. Wine is complex and layered. Just because someone else in your group is getting citrus notes, doesn’t mean you’re wrong for getting earthy or herbaceous notes. Recognize your observations, they’re going to strongly influence the next step.
The moment you’ve been waiting for. Wine lovers use the term “sip” to indicate the slow pace wine tasting is taken at, not the amount you should pull into your mouth. In fact, take a larger sip than you normally would. Allow the wine to sit in your mouth for a few seconds. As your body warms the wine, even more characteristics wake up within it. You’re greeted by the yin and yang in your glass. The balance of sweet, salty, fruity, and bitter flavors.
Lastly, savor it. How long does the flavor linger in your mouth? What is your impression of the aftertaste? Did you enjoy the balance it struck, or did you find the acidity or sweetness overpowering? Learn from what you tasted. Take notes, and keep tasting.
Wine Tasting in Pennsylvania
Most importantly, wine tasting is about learning and having fun. You won’t have to face a written test afterward. No one is going to quiz you. You’re going home with a few new favorite wines, an expanded knowledge of winemaking, and memories made. These five rules of wine tasting are here to help you to make the most of it. Ready to plan your next wine trip? Explore the Wine Trails of Pennsylvania to get started.