How to taste wine like an expert

Samantha PillingFood and Drink

red wine tasting

So many of us enjoy a glass of wine. No matter what your experience of wine, you can learn to appreciate some of the amazing choices on offer for you. But learning how to taste wine is something you have to learn to master if you want to really benefit and savour your wine. But how do you learn to taste wine like an expert? Here’s our simple breakdown of what to do during a wine tasting session.

There are no right or wrong answers

Firstly, remember that everyone will have their own impression and opinion of what they’re tasting. You’re the only person who can say what you do or don’t like and no amount of fancy wording or price tag can change that.

Remember the three steps

It’s easy to remember that tasting wine basically means doing these three simple steps – look, smell, taste.

Look

Tilt the glass to one side slightly and try to hold it over a plain, white background. That way, you’ll be able to really see the colour of the wine. You can really tell a lot about wine, from its colour. Deeper, rich colours can signify age, richness and intensity, whereas lighter flavours can be a sign of a younger, lighter tasting wine.

Smell

Swirl the wine around the glass – but keep it anchored to the table, otherwise, you may end up wearing it! This swirling adds oxygen to the wine, releases the flavour and helps coat the glass. Keeping your mouth slightly open, give the wine a couple of sniffs. If you’d rather, you can inhale deeply, to really get in there – but either is good. You’re looking for both clean and fresh floral or fruity scents, but also memories triggered by its smell. Typical flavours can include vanilla, blueberries, coffee, jam, oak, earth and minerals.

Taste

Now’s the time to take a decent sip from your glass. You can then hold the wine in your mouth whilst you slightly part your lips and inhale some air. You can then swirl it around your mouth, to really explore the flavour. Take several sips and if you’re happy to swallow rather than spit it out, you can! What you’re looking for are taste, sensation and feel. Was it fresh, sweet and smooth? How about sour, hot and dusty? And once you’ve swallowed – how long do those flavours last in your mouth?

Remember, there are actually so many things that can affect the overall taste of a wine. Young wines will often need to be decanted, to give them room to breathe, otherwise you’ll miss the more complex aromas. It’s also important to serve wine in a decent wine glass and at room temperature – for red wine, that’s 60-65 degrees, for white, it’s 55-60 degrees.

Wine tasting is a passion that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of experience. It’s only by following the general advice above and putting in the practice, that you’ll get better at it. And the more you explore, the more you’ll find to enjoy.

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