- Prepping the palate
- Get informed
- Pour a glass of wine
- Tears or legs
- Dark fruits and berries
- Red fruits and berries
- Other fruits
- Dryness and sweetness
- Stay hydrated
Everyone can tell a red from a white, but how does one truly taste and properly appreciate wine? In this gallery, you’ll learn how to use your palate, sense of smell, and eyes so you will never have a glass of bad wine again. Click through to learn more!
Prepping the palate
It’s important to ensure that your palate is cleansed and hydrated. You also shouldn’t brush your teeth just before wine tasting.
Glassware is of utmost importance in wine tasting. You don’t need an expensive glass, but make sure you use a classically-shaped, clean wine glass.
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Read the label and look at the wine inside the bottle. Gather as much information as you can about the wine before pouring it into a glass and beginning the tasting process.
Pour a glass of wine
It’s time to pour some wine. Now, is the wine clear or hazy? Clear wine usually means it has been filtered. Some popular wine varieties are not filtered—think Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, for instance.
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Tilt the glass against something white, preferably. Young wines should have a transparent ring on top, while more mature wines will look denser.
The richer and deeper the color is, the older the wine usually is, and vice versa. This will also give you a rough idea of the wine’s body.
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Tears or legs
If you swirl the glass and then stop you will see that the wine will form tears or legs as the wine goes down. This will give you important clues as to the amount of alcohol and the level of sugar the wine contains.
Smell the wine before swirling the glass. Use your sense of smell and try to figure out which aromas you are able to identify.
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Swirl your glass. This will release the wine’s aromas and you will be able to identify particular ones. This is a very important part of the process because a great percentage of taste derives from smell, as BMC reports.
Wine can have a variety of aromas. The aromas can be fruity, floral, woody, or earthy, among others.
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Dark fruits and berries
Some of the aromas that you might identify in wines include blueberry, black currant, and black plum.
Red fruits and berries
You might also identify these: strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, red currant, and red plum, among others.
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There is a wide range of fruity aromas in wine. Another popular one is citrus (lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit). But you can also find hints of banana, peach, fig, or melon in some wines.
An earthy and mineral taste is very characteristic of some wines, particularly those from Europe—think clay, chalk, or mushrooms.
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Common floral aromas you may identify include elderflower, orange blossom, rose, and violet.
And because most wines are kept in oak barrels, it’s only natural that these will influence the smell.
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Now that your nose has done half the work, it’s time to put your palate to the test. Here’s what to taste for.
You might be familiar with the terms ‘light-bodied,’ ‘medium-bodied,’ and ‘full-bodied,’ but what do they really mean? Well, alcohol content is the answer. The more alcohol percentage the wine has, the denser it will look. Think of it as if you were drinking milk, from skimmed to full-fat.
Dryness and sweetness
Does the wine feel sweet or drier to the palate? At which end of the scale would you put it? Is there an identifiable balance? Pay attention to how the wine feels on your whole tongue and not just the tip.
Remember the fruits you identified through smell—can you identify them now in the flavor? Are they the same or are they different? Which ones are more pronounced?
Can you identify mineral properties in the taste? Can you actually taste the clay and chalk you might have smelled previously?
Is there a woody taste to the wine? Can you identify any of the woody flavors you smelled? Pay particular attention to the middle part of your tongue as this is where the bitterness receptors are located.
Tannins come from the barrels used to age the wine as well as from the grape skins. The right balance can give an extra layer of complexity to the wine. Too much of it though will render it undrinkable.
There are four main acids in wine: malic, tartaric, lactic, and citric. Wine needs a good balance of acidity to taste and age well.
Remind yourself of the heat you felt when smelling the wine. It’s now time to assess the warmth in your throat and chest.
Does the taste go away quickly, or does is last? As a rule of thumb, if the taste lasts longer than 20 seconds, it’s considered a long finish, and is therefore considered a higher-quality wine.
This is all about the harmony between the various elements of the wine. How is the balance between the acids, the fruit, and the tannins? Do any of these stand out or is it a well-balanced wine?
This is essentially the amount of flavors and aromas in a wine combined with how much it changes as you drink it. The aromas and flavors of a more complex wine will change as it travels across your palate.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water in between glasses of wine!
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