How To Taste Wine In the Most Basic Way

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I was clearly doing it wrong. I’d long thought that spitting out wine was for amateurs. Those wasteful sorts that didn’t realize how many people didn’t get the chance to wander around rooms and indulge in thirty different wines at one time. Now I know that you spit because swallowing dulls the senses that allow you to clearly be able to taste and deduce what a wine is and the quality of it. This is just one of the many things I realized I had no idea about once I started learning how to taste properly.

To help you avoid my mistake, below is a quick and easy guide on how to taste wine and what to look for. There are several other things that can be judged and discerned through tasting a wine, but I wanted to create a list for the average taster that wanted to understand a little more about wine than just what they liked and disliked.

Step 1 - Analyze the Color
After the wine is poured in the glass take a look at the color. This is one of the first steps in determining the age of the wine. When bottled, a wine’s color will change over time. For white wines, the younger the wine, the lighter the color. It’s the opposite for red wines. The darker the wine (purplish), the younger the wine.

Step 2 - Swirl the wine in the glass
Other than just looking cool, this allows you to see how much body the wine has. Light-bodied wines will move quicker and heavy-bodied wines will move slower. This will tell you how much sugar the wine has. Heavy-bodied wines have more sugar. That matters because the amount of sugar allows you to figure out where the grapes for a wine were grown. More body in a wine means that the wine is from a warmer climate.

Step 3 - Smell the Wine
Swirl the wine again and quickly get your nose in the glass. As you are pulling it close, take note of how quickly you can smell the wine. The stronger the aroma before you get to the glass, the better quality wine. Next, take note of what you smell. There are no wrong answers, but this can generally be broken down into four categories:

A: Fruit and Floral Aromas - citrus, berries, tropical fruits, apples, pears, dried fruits, fresh flowers, perfume
B: Earth and Mineral Aromas - earth, wet dirt, minerals, vegetables, herbs
C: Wood and Spice Aromas - wood, smoke, roasted smells, spices, caramelization
D: Biological and Chemical Aromas - yeast, butter, nail polish remover, vinegar, medicine, cat urine (yes, really)

Step 4: Taste the Wine
Take a small sip and swish the wine around so that it comes in contact with all the surfaces inside your mouth. Think about the following:

A: How thick is it? - This is another way to judge the body of the wine.
B: How sweet is it? - This step measures residual sugar
C: How tart or sour is it? - This allows you to measure the acidity of the wine. The higher the acidity, the cooler the climate where the grapes were grown.
D: How intense is the flavor -

Spit and repeat.