Ask The Cellar Dweller: How To Taste Wine

how to taste wine pro

Dear Cellar Dweller,

Whenever I attend a wine tasting, I feel intimidated by the “experts”. I don’t know ANYTHING about wine besides that I like what I like. Can you teach me how to taste wine like a pro?


Beginners Luck 


Dear Beginner,

That is a loaded question!! I can certainly give you some tips on how to taste wine, but it seems to me that you’ve figured out the secret already: you like what you like!!

Most of those “experts” you mentioned are experiencing wine using as many senses as possible to get the most out of it. You can do this too, but it may or may not affect your opinion on what you’re drinking.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

  • Start by looking at the wine. Notice the color. Is it opaque? Clear? Deep red? A tinge green?
    • Swirl it around in the glass and observe the “legs” (aka whether or not it clings to the side of the glass and creates streaks as it runs down). Legend has it that this can tell you any number of things about the wine, from how sweet it is, to its quality, to its alcohol content. I really can’t tell you if any of that is true or not, but it’s fun to do and you will definitely have that expert “look” down pat!
  • Next, give the wine a sniff. If you’re not used to doing this, it’s gonna feel a little strange to do. And if you’re not careful, you might end up with a little on the end of your nose. It’s all part of the fun, my friend.
  • Then, my favorite part: take a sip! Swish it around your mouth a little, if you like. Try and pinpoint any flavors you notice.
    • If you have heard or read that the wine you’re tasting has a certain flavor, be prepared to notice that. I once tasted a wine after reading a tasting note that it had a hint of dust, and that was all I could taste.
    • Many wines change. Throughout the sip, the longer it’s exposed to air, etc. So what you taste during your first sip may change the more you have.

There you go!

You’ve just tasted wine “like a pro”. For the full effect, feel free to then mutter stuff about tannins, appellation, and/or structure. You know, for fun!

Seriously though, Beginner, the best way to learn how to taste wine, is just to keep an open mind, and keep tasting them. The free wine tastings at Personal Wine Cellar are a great way to accomplish this. You’ll be an expert in no time!

Good Luck!

-CD the Cellar Dweller

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