Wine time: how to taste wine like a pro

Tasting wine isn’t reserved for society’s snooty types: everyone can do it to get the most out of their vino! All you have to do is follow a very simple method to taste wine like a pro, and this way you will find a drop that is perfect for your palate.

It doesn’t matter if you’re tasting a Barossa, Tuscan or Bordeaux wine, here is the intro guide to tasting it like a pro!

Observe the drop

First, you want to observe the vino for a couple of seconds, taking note of its colour, viscosity and opacity. You also want to observe the bottle, reading the label to learn more about the vintage, Denomination of Origin and grape variety, as this will help you understand the wine better.

Sniff the wine

We’ve seen them all do it in films, and they’re doing it for a reason! Smell is almost as important as taste when it comes to sampling wine, so what does the drop smell like?

You want to go for broader notes, like specific fruits or citrusy aromas, following these categories:

  • Primary aromas: These come from the grape and include flora, fruity or herbal notes.
  • Secondary notes: These come from the practises incorporated to make the wine, most commonly derived from yeast, especially noticeable in white wines, and can include notes of aged beer, nutshell or even cheese rind.
  • Tertiary notes: These include anything noted in the ageing process – usually done through the bottle but can also be oak. Can include spices and notes of vanilla etc.

Savour the flavour

It’s now time to taste your wine, noting its flavour and texture. Then, once you have swallowed the wine, you can perceive any changes in aromas that come retro-nasally.

The palate is made to perceive what is sour, sweet, salty or bitter in your wine. Every wine has a hint of sourness, as grapes themselves are sour, but sourness will vary depending on the climate and the type of grape used to make the wine.

Regarding sweetness, this will more commonly shine through in wines that hold on to some of the grape’s sugar content, as this provides the wine with a natural sweetness. Wines with less sugar will be more bitter; hints can be difficult to find when it comes to a salty wine.  

Another thing to look out when tasting wine is its texture: does the wine have a bolder texture? This is something that typically occurs in a region with a higher alcohol maturation and higher content. The palate can note the tannins, which makes wine feel dry on the back of the tongue.

Finally, how long does the wine remain on the palate? And does the wine settle at the beginning, middle or end upon tasting? Does the taste pass easily and lightly through the mouth or is strong and remains lodged until the end?

Consider the wine

You have to start thinking about the wine once you’ve tasted it. Simply put – did you like the wine? What aspects of it did you like and didn’t like? What flavours were strongest and what aromas could you perceive? This may sound like a lot to take on at first, but with practise and careful consideration of the drops you are trying, you will soon be tasting wine like a pro and be ready to roll around the wineries, picking up vintages for your home collection!