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How to wine taste like a pro

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

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!

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

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.

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Glassware

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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Get informed

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.

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

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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Age

Tilt the glass against something white, preferably. Young wines should have a transparent ring on top, while more mature wines will look denser.

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Color

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.

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Smell

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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food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Smell

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.

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Aromas

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.

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Red fruits and berries

You might also identify these: strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, red currant, and red plum, among others.

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Other fruits

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.

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Earthy

An earthy and mineral taste is very characteristic of some wines, particularly those from Europe—think clay, chalk, or mushrooms.

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Floral

Common floral aromas you may identify include elderflower, orange blossom, rose, and violet.

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Woody

And because most wines are kept in oak barrels, it’s only natural that these will influence the smell.

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Taste

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.

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Body

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.

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

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.

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Fruit

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?

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Earth

Can you identify mineral properties in the taste? Can you actually taste the clay and chalk you might have smelled previously?

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Wood

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.

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Tannin

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.

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Acidity

There are four main acids in wine: malic, tartaric, lactic, and citric. Wine needs a good balance of acidity to taste and age well.

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Alcohol

Remind yourself of the heat you felt when smelling the wine. It’s now time to assess the warmth in your throat and chest.

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Aftertaste/finish

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.

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Balance

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?

food, how to, how to wine taste like a pro

Complexity

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.

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Stay hydrated

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water in between glasses of wine!

See also: The best wine to pair with any meal

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