I don't think we're alone when we say that when we attend a wine tasting event, we feel intimidated. I have always wanted to taste wine like a pro since watching Sideways. For years, I only drank Pinot Noir because Paul Giamatti's character refused to drink a merlot!
But I never really understood why.
But now that we know how to taste wine like a pro we want to share a step by step guide on how to taste wine like the experts.
Wine experts seem to know everything about how to taste a good wine and they do it with such flair and confidence.
We on the other hand timidly smell the nose, swirl it around a bit in our glass and say things like “that's really nice.” Not very professional.
Learn How to Taste Wine Like a Pro
During our wine tasting class, we were taught exactly what to look for in a wine, how to pour and swirl the wine in our glass and even how to rinse the wine out between pours.
We now feel like we know how to taste wine like the pros.
We may not know what we're actually tasting or smelling, but we sure look the part.
So for your next wine tasting experience, enjoy our step by step guide of how to taste wine like the experts.
Wine Tasting Steps
When the wine is first poured into the glass, hold the tilted wine glass over a piece of white paper.
This is to check for the age of the wine. If there is a transparent ring at the top, it is a young wine.
If the wine is denser, it is a more mature wine.
Our wine expert explained this as to think of the wine as a fingernail.
When the glass is tilted the wine looks like the shape of a fingernail. The lighter portion is the length of the nail and the darker portion is the nail bed.
The lighter portion (the length) of the wine is where you should look to see if the wine is young or old.
2. Smelling the Wine
After you have examined the pour, it is now time to use your sense of smell to find the aromas of the wine.
Give the glass of wine a good smell. You can take several short sniffs to find the smells.
Think about what your nose senses.
What spices or wine aromas do you smell? Really take your time and enjoy this process to take in that wine smell.
Swish your glass in a circle to bring out the flavours of the wine.
You can either do it in the air or on the table.
3. How to Swish or Swirl Wine before tasting
Hold the glass by the stem at the base and swirl it around letting the wine flow up the sides of the glass.
I remember my sister always doing this and saying things like “This wine has good legs”
Looking at the “legs” of the wine is not really for that reason that you swish though.
You don't look at the consistency of the wine. The swish is to let the aromas rise out of the glass and lets you see the depth of color of the wine.
This is where you make mental notes of your impressions of the wine.
Sniff the nose again
After you have swirled the wine, it is now time to sniff again.
This is when you will really smell the aroma because you have released the flavours.
Tilt the glass 45 degrees and give it a good deep smell with your nose firmly placed in the wine glass.
Once you give the wine a good sniff, think about what you are smelling. What spices, fruits, flowers do think you smell?
Go with your instinct. Chances are you will be right!
- Note: My go-to smell that I always mention is “berries” I say, Ooh, I smell berries of some kind. Could it be blackberry or cherry?” They always smile and say “yes!” (they probably know my scam, but it's fun either way) And usually there are some sort of berries in wine.
4. Ingredients of Wines
When searching for the flavours in your wine tasting, think about what ingredients go into making wine.
Think about the common aromas that will be in wine like: Berries, fruit, nuts, and spices.
But think outside the box as well. Things like caramel, molasses, vanilla, or black current are often in wines.
What about wine barrels and wood like oak or pine?
When you have an idea of what you will be smelling you can seek it out easier.
5. Wine Tasting Tips
Now it is time to taste the wine.
This is not the time to take a timid little sip and say “That's nice.”
This is a time to truly taste the wine, savor it, and discover the flavors on your palette.
So how do you do taste wine properly?
- Take a good sip of the wine.
- Hold it in your mouth and count to 10.
- Between the counting of 3 and 5, take in some air with the wine in your mouth.
- It's like sipping in the air.
- From the counting of 6 to 10 hold it again and savor the taste.
- Once you have counted to 10, you can drink or spit, you choose.
You don't have to spit the wine out. We always drink it.
But many professionals like to spit the wine out. If you really want to look like a pro, spit it out.
4. Cleansing your wine glass
But as you know, every wine tasting doesn't stop with just one glass.
You need to try several varieties of wine, so between each tasting, you need to cleanse your glass.
Many people won't finish the glass of wine and will instead pour the rest out, but if you are like us, you'll finish it all. I'm not giving up a glass of great wine! But here is how the experts do it.
- Pour wine out into the jug or bin provided.
- Rinse your glass by pouring water into the glass and swirling it around.
Congratulations, you've done your first successful wine tasting!
- Pour out the water, but not in one swoop. Lay the glass on it's side and twirl the water out slowly so that it rinses all the wine from the sides of the glass.
- Rinse your mouth: You need a fresh and clean pallette to taste the next glass of wine, so take a sip of water, and rinse.
If you want to become a serious tasting professional, it's a good idea to pay attention during each wine tasting that you do.
Make tasting notes to remember what flavours your nose picked up when tasting red wines vs white wines.
What aromas did you notice in a full bodied wine or in a lighter wine.
You have finished your wine tasting and now you know how to taste wine like an expert!
Great Wine Movies to Watch
We watch a lot of movies about travel to get us in the mood for our next destination, well, watching a movie about our next hobby is exciting as well!
If you really want to get your wine snobbery on, watch these excellent movies about wine.
- Sideways – This comedy road trip through California's wine country put Pinot Noir on the map.
- A Good Year – Russel Crowe inherits a vineyard in Provence. Watch his transformation from workaholic in London to laid back lover in France.
- Bottle Shock – A Fun wine movie about the emergence of the California Wine industry when it wins the Judgement of France. Starring a young Chris Pine.
- A Walk in the Clouds – Keanu Reeves stars in a wine romance movie? Who could ask for more?
Now get out there at your next party or when you order your next bottle of wine at a restaurant and taste it with confidence.