How to taste a wine

How to taste a wine

The ability to enjoy a wine is an art that everyone can develop and improve upon.  Drinking different wines, and reading and talking about them, naturally improves the ability to distinguish the subtle differences between them.

Visually

Using a white background, slightly tilt the glass, and look through the wine to observe the different colour tones.  With the glass tilted, the halo in the wine shows you other shades that can be related to the age of the wine.  The clarity is gauged according to the absence of particles suspended in the liquid as well as the transparency of the wine. 

The fluidity and thickness of the wine can be assessed by swirling the glass and noting how the wine trickles down the inside of the glass.

Aromatically

First try to smell the aromas of the wine without swirling the glass. The strongest aromas can be experienced by putting your nose into the glass, as close to the wine as possible, and breathing in slowly to experience the full aroma of the wine.  Wines can be characterized by one predominant aroma or, alternatively, can contain a wide range of aromas that can be identified fairly easily depending on their intensity.  Swirling the glass will allow the wine to make contact with a larger amount of oxygen and this movement will cause the wine to release further aromatics to help you further identify the various smells and aromas contained in the bouquet.

In mouth

Take a sip of wine and allow it to pass slowly through your mouth and over your tongue. Don’t swallow the wine immediately, but try to identify the different flavours and sensations of the wine on the different taste regions of the tongue.  This will also allow you to feel the body of the wine, which corresponds to the weight of wine that you feel in your mouth.

The tip of the tongue identifies the sugars in the wine, and the acidity is determined by the reaction of the saliva glands as the wine moves toward the back of the tongue.  When wine has a soft and balanced texture it is ‘round-bodied’. 

When a wine is pleasing to all senses in general, it is well-balanced.  The balance of a wine is created by several elements coming together - the more compatible the elements are with each other, the more balanced the wine.