The job of a sommelier is definitely not easy. But with the right technique and enough practice, anyone can learn to describe and discuss wine like a true professional. So, keep on reading to find out the proper steps to tasting wine and elevate your experience.
If it’s your first time going to a wine tasting event, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit intimidated. However, you need to keep in mind that the main goal of attending a wine party is to enjoy yourself and to discover new flavors that you like. You shouldn’t get too stressed out about how other people perceive you and instead focus on learning more about your preferences. As for the tasting technique, here’s all that you need to know:
#1 Start by looking at the wine
Pour around an inch of wine into your glass, then tilt it to observe its color and viscosity. Hold the glass next to a light source or against a white napkin to properly see the complexity of color and discern the age of the wine. While white wine gets darker with age, red actually gets lighter. For red wines, sediment can be another sign of a vintage variety.
When you put the glass back in its original position, look at the trails left behind. These are called wine legs, and they are an indicator of viscosity. A light-bodied wine will have longer trails that dissipate easier, while medium and full-bodied wine legs are thicker and last longer on the side of the glass.
#2 Smell the wine
Before taking in the aromas of your beverage, swirl the glass for around 10 seconds. This will help aerate it, which lets out secondary aromas in the wine. The first thing you will notice is the intensity of the wine. If you can smell the perfumes from afar, then it’s a high-intensity drink. For medium intensity, you need to put your nose slightly in the glass to sense the smell.
With practice, you will learn to differentiate smells better in this step. But for now, try to point out the general category of aromas you are sensing: is the wine fruity, herbal, floral, or even a bit spicy? When smelling white wine, you might notice a citrusy smell. On the other hand, reds often have a distinct red fruits aroma. Can you determine if the wine was aged in an oak barrel by secondary aromas? These include vanilla, spices, leaves, nuts, and old tobacco.
#3 Taste the wine
Take a sip of the wine and let it coat your tongue completely. The tongue is covered with different taste receptors, so in order to fully taste the flavors, you need to swirl it gently around your mouth. With the information you got from smelling the wine, you will be able to notice all the flavors.
Try to concentrate and pay attention to all details. For instance, take into account how sweet and how acidic the wine is. Is one feature overpowering the others, or does it feel balanced? Is the wine light-bodied like water, or is it full-bodied like a liquor? When you are done assessing all these details, you can spit out the drink or decide to swallow a little bit to taste the finish of the wine. If you are trying out more than one variety of wine, you can drink a sip of water between tastings to cleanse your palette.