How to Taste Wine
Beginner's Guide to Tasting Wine
It is easy to be intimidated when trying a wine, especially in front of other people. What aromas or flavors should you be looking for? What reaction should you have? How can you tell whether it is an inexpensive or very expensive bottle?
Don't overthink it! At the end of the day, you like what YOU like. Not what anyone else likes. Ratings can give an indication of how good a wine is, but if you are new to wine you might not care about the 96 rating for a $100 bottle of wine. The experts look for subtleties in a wine, how they can differentiate the wine ... and most of the time just gurgle the wine and spit it back into the glass! At The Simple Wine, we are all about keeping things simple and just enjoying what you enjoy. How will you know how a wine makes you feel during, after, and the next day after drinking the wine without actually having a couple glasses? So, here are my quick tips for any beginner's tasting wine.
1. Check out the cork
After you open the wine bottle, take a look at the cork. Rarely, you will see the cork stained with wine through the top. If the cork is stained throughout, it is possible that your wine has been ruined. It's no big deal, it happens. Usually you will see just a little bit of wine at the very bottom of the cork. That's ok.
2. Smell the cork
I personally really enjoy smelling the bottom end of the cork after opening my wine bottles. It prepares me for the aroma/taste of the wine and often times smells great! You can get an idea of the grape you are about to try.
3. Let the wine breathe
Depending on the type and quality of the wine, you will want to let the wine breathe before you try it. Letting the wine breathe gets rid of sharpnesses in the taste. Think about it, this grape juice has been bottled up for years and has just been opened! Let the wine open up and relax a little. I recommend letting the wine breathe at least 15 minutes before drinking. Tastes a little sharp? Maybe let it breathe a little more. Still tastes too sharp? Maybe you don't like this wine and need to try a better quality wine.
4. Pour and swirl
For a casual bottle, it is not necessary to use a decanter. Simply pour yourself a glass of wine. The glass should be poured a little less than halfway depending on the glass. Look for the part of the glass where the curve becomes as close to a vertical line before curving again. That's the imaginary line you want to pour your wine to. Now have a little fun and give your glass of wine a little swirl. Nothing crazy, just catch the rhythm and give it a couple controlled swirls... practice makes perfect ;)
5. Smell the wine
Poke your nose into the glass and give the wine a little whiff! Breathe in deep through the nose and let the aroma of the wine pass through your chest. This will give you a little preview of the taste. It's crazy, sometimes people will like the aroma, but then not the wine! Or vice-versa! But most of the time the aroma complements the taste.
6. Take your sip 😎
Enjoy. Take a sip and see what you think of the wine. Keep it simple when starting out: do you like the wine or not? That's it. Then slowly you will think "ok, maybe it needs to open up a bit more" or "I think I like wines that are a little sweeter" or "I want a wine that has higher acidity."
This is a simple guide for tasting wines and figuring out what you like. If you just want to crack open a bottle and enjoy it, please do so by all means. You do not have to go through this process every time you open a bottle. However, you will be surprised how quickly you develop your own wine tasting routine.