Want to learn to taste wine like a pro?
Have you ever found yourself at dinner or a party being asked to assess a wine? Wine tasting isn’t like tasting soda or a cheeseburger. It involves all of your senses and takes a lot more appreciation for subtlety. And if you’re not sure what to look for, smell for and taste for when tasting wine, it can leave you feeling uncultured. Luckily, your friends at HaloVino — the makers of the best non-breakable wine glasses on the market — have put together these steps to help you taste wine like a pro:
Step 1. Start with the right glass.
You’ll want to pour your wine into a clear glass that’s big enough to swirl the wine with a rim that bends inward. With the clear glass, you’ll be able to take in the color of the wine. The inward rim allows you to swirl the wine without spilling it, and it helps to funnel the wine’s aromas into your nose.
Step 2. Look at the wine.
Before you even take a sip of your wine, take a moment to look at it. The color can tell you more than if the wine is a red or a white. It can help you learn the age of the wine. Reds lose colors as they age, and whites gain color as they age. You should also pay attention to the clarity and the hue of the wine.
Step 3. Swirl the wine.
Swirling should be done before tasting the wine because it aerates it. It also helps to release the aroma, which evaporates on the sides of the glass. Be careful not to over-swirl the wine; don’t swirl it for more than five to six seconds. Swirling also helps you learn about the viscosity of the wine by looking at the streaks that drip down the sides of the glass — called legs. Wines that have more sugar and a higher alcohol content have more pronounced legs. However, you won’t learn much about the taste or quality of the wine by looking at the legs.
Step 4. Smell the wine.
Smelling the wine is almost as enjoyable as tasting it, and you’ll want to put your nose directly over the glass and breathe in deeply. The best tip for beginners is to keep it simple. Ask yourself if you smell FRUIT (i.e. peaches, berries), EARTH (i.e. grass, smoke) or SPICE (cinnamon, vanilla, etc.). If you feel comfortable and able, you can get more specific and ask yourself, for instance, if you smell red fruit, black fruit, blue fruit, tree fruit or tropical fruit. This approach takes the pressure off trying to identify aromas and allows you to enjoy the wine more. It is also a fantastic way to train your brain to recognize aromas.
Step 5. Take a sip of the wine.
To really taste the wine, you don’t want to gulp it. Sip it slowly, letting it slide across every angle of your tongue, and paying attention to as many sensations and flavors as possible. Is the wine fruity? Are the elements of the wine balanced, or is one overpowering? Is it a light-, medium- or full-bodied wine?
The three broad categories that describe wine are tannin, acidity and sweetness. Tannin comes from the seeds, stems and skins of the grapes, and is what creates the lingering taste of the wine. Wines with too much tannin are often bitter. The acidity is what gives the wine a lift. Without the acidity, the wine will taste flat.
Step 6. Swallow or spit out the wine.
If you’re only interested in tasting the wine or you have several more wines to taste ahead of you and you want to keep your senses as sharp as possible, you can always spit out the wine instead of swallowing it. However, if you wish to taste the lingering notes of the wine, swallowing it is the way to go.
If you are tasting multiple wines, start with lightest wines first and progress to heavier, more full-bodied wines as you go. Also, taking a sip of water between wine tastings will help to preserve your palate.
And remember, the more wine you taste, the better you’ll be able to differentiate between wines and the more familiar you’ll be with the different tastes and aromas of different types of wine. Practice makes perfect, and it gives you a great excuse to go to more wine tastings!
At HaloVino, we offer non-breakable, plastic wine glasses so that you can enjoy your favorite vintages anywhere from your dining room table to romantic, candle-lit, picnic in the park. These glasses are strong, sturdy and perfect for any and every occasion when glass isn’t an option.
Shop our unbreakable wine glasses at HaloVino today!