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Simple Steps to Wine Tasting

Wine tasting Simplified

Tasting wine may seem complicated at first, but once you are familiar with the ritual of wine tasting, it will become second nature. There is really no great mystery about tasting and selecting wine.

Wines are generally evaluated by appearance, aroma and flavor. The more wines you sample, the better you will become at rating wine. In the end, you simply choose the wine you like.

Follow the simple steps below:

Step 1
Pour wine into a clean, clear wine glass, no more than one-quarter full. Raising the glass up by its stem, hold it up to the light or against a white background. Look at the wine and try to judge its appearance. Is the wine clear or cloudy? A fine wine should be clear and brilliant. If it is cloudy, it may be spoiled. However, aged wines may, at times, look darker and slightly dull.

The color of the wine will be distinctly different depending on the type of wine you are tasting. Reds can vary from a light red to a deep, inky purple. Whites can range from pale yellow to golden honey. You will find out for yourself as you become more familiar with different types of wine.

Step 2
Try to bring out the aroma or fragrance by swirling the wine to coat the inside of the glass. Bringing the glass close under your nose, inhale the wine's aroma deeply. Quickly, what comes to mind? Does it smell fruity or flowery? Which fruit or flower comes to mind? If you are tasting a white wine, are you detecting smells of apple, pear or perhaps melon? Or scents of flowers, like rose or jasmine, or vanilla, or perhaps honey? It all depends on the wine you are sampling. If it is a red wine you are sampling, you may smell fruits like berry, plum, cherry, strawberry. Or other aromas like cinnamon, clove, or pepper. Does the aroma appeal to you? Is it a strong or weak aroma?

Step 3
Now taste the wine. Take a generous sip without swallowing. Let the wine roll over your tongue, draw it slowly into your mouth and sort of "chew" it, so that the wine reaches all parts of your mouth. Pay close attention to your senses. Try to describe in your mind what the wine feels and tastes like. Does the wine taste sweet or acidic. Which fruits and spices come to mind? Does it taste thin and weak, or strong and rich? Does the wine have "body," regarding your sense of its weight in your mouth?. Once you have identified the tastes, swallow the wine and see what kind of aftertaste it leaves. Does the wine linger in your mouth, or do the flavors disappear quickly? Did you like what you tasted? How would you rate the wine on a scale of 1 to 5?

Now repeat the steps again and pay close attention to the sensations you experience. Often you will detect additional flavors and aromas.


The Color of Wine
The color of wine depends on varietal, vintage or age.

White Wines
Buttery Yellow - Chardonnay, White Burgundy
Pale Yellow - Sauvignon Blanc, White Riesling, Chablis
Straw Yellow - Chenin Blanc, Gewuerztraminer
Golden Honey - Aged white wines, dessert wines

Red Wines
Deep Red - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Bordeaux
Light Red - Pinot Noir, Burgundy
Inky Purple-Red - Petite Sirah
Light Purple-Red - Beaujolais

The Aroma of Wine
The aroma, also fragrance, bouquet, smell or "nose," will tell a lot about the wine and usually identifies the varietal.

Chardonnay - Melon, pear, apple, lemon, pineapple, vanilla, butter
Sauvignon Blanc - Grapefruit, lemon, herb
Riesling - Green apple, peach, apricot, honey
Gewuerztraminer - Peach, pineapple, ginger, jasmine
Cabernet Sauvignon - Black cherry, black currant, clove, cinnamon, pepper
Merlot - Plum, black currant, black cherry
Zinfandel - Raspberry, black cherry, black berry, clove, black pepper, chocolate
Pinot Noir - Cherry, strawberry, wood smoke

The Taste of Wine
Tasting the wine will help to confirm the varietal of the wine. The following are the characteristics you should look for when tasting wine.

Flavor - Fruity, floral, spicy, earthy, smoky, buttery, corky, musty, complex
Tannin - For reds: Very tannic = astringent, dry; Low tannic = mellow
Acidity - For whites: High acidity = dry, crisp; Low acidity = off-dry to sweet
Oakiness - oaky, presence of wood; caused from barrel aging
Body - Full, medium, light; the weight of wine in the mouth
Finish - Long, medium, short; the lingering aftertaste in the mouth