Learning how to taste wine can enhance your wine tasting experience and help you understand your taste profile. Sommeliers use 5 basic steps to refine their palate through their sense of sight, smell, and taste. If you want to learn more about wine tasting and put these steps to practice, be sure to sign up for our virtual wine tasting events. They’re held at the beginning of each month for select wines from our subscription packs.
Follow these easy steps to get tasting!
Step 1: Presentation
The first step is to check out the colour, opacity, and viscosity of the wine. Tilt your glass in front of a light to get a better view. This step is important because it can help you determine if there are any faults with your wine like discoloration.
The color of the wine can tell you a lot about what you’re tasting. For white wines, a darker color can come from age. If it’s light and bright, there has been minimal contact with the grape skin. The opposite is true for red wines. The longer it’s aged, the lighter the color. Above is a good reference to determine the color of your wine.
Step 2: Aroma
Now that you’ve identified the colour, it’s time to swirl your glass and smell. Think about the aromas you get. Do you smell fruit, spices, or earthy tones? Is it fresh or pungent? This part can be overwhelming if it’s your first time and you don’t know what to look for. Luckily there is no right or wrong answer! Some examples of aromas are:
- Fruity: Black cherry, raspberry, plum, and orange zest
- Floral: Lavender, citrus blossom, geranium, and rose
- Spice and Oak: Cocoa powder, leather, dried fig, and vanilla
Step 3: Indulge
Ahhh, the best part – tasting! When you take a sip, coat your entire tongue with the wine and breathe in through your mouth and nose. Our tongues detect salty, sweet, bitter, and sour and all wines will have some sour since grapes are somewhat acidic (more so in cooler climates). Certain varieties are known for their bitterness, from their high level of tannins like Cabernet Sauvignon. Other wines are known to be sweeter, usually whites like Riesling. There are fewer wines that have a salty taste.
Next, notice the texture of the wine on your tongue. A greater texture can mean a higher alcohol percentage. If you have a mouth-drying sensation, this means it’s high in tannins. If sensations linger on your tongue after tasting, this is known as a “long finish”.
Step 4: Reflect
After going through the first 3 steps, take time to think about the aromas, taste, and if you enjoyed the wine. Since wine tasting is completely subjective, this process helps you understand what you liked, and didn’t like. Tasting wine no longer has to be overwhelming, so use this guide to help you enhance your wine tasting experience for any occasion! If you want to learn more about tasting notes and wine aromas visit our learn section.
Step 5: Eat & Drink
The final step to complete your wine tasting experience is complementing your wine with food. There are endless food and wine pairings to explore! Full-bodied whites like Chardonnay go great with bigger flavours like salmon. Light-bodied reds like Pinot Noir pair well with leaner red meats. We also offer a selection of regular and plant-based charcuterie platters that make for the perfect wine pairing! Now that you’re a pro, put these steps to practice, and happy wine tasting!
Tiegan Ford is the Marketing Coordinator at Paired, with an interest in design as well. As a novice wine drinker, she enjoys learning about wine, what foods to pair with different wines, and tasting notes to further expand her knowledge and enhance her wine tasting experience.