This is course number 1 of Julien’s 3.5-Minute Wine School so we are going to start from the beginning, how to taste wine properly, or at least better.
After reading though this piece, join the wine-learning journey with the full series of Julien’s Wine School on YouTube.
This is more intended to people that are relatively new to wine, but I think if you are already a wine connoisseur, you will still learn a little something, as I will try cover why each step is important with some details.
Essentially, for tasting and appreciating wine, we try to use as many of our sense as possible. We use them all in fact, except for hearing. There is not a lot you can do with wine about hearing, or perhaps play your favorite tune as you’re tasting!
For tasting wine, we are going to be using our sight, smell, taste, and touch.
So, the first phase to tasting wine properly, is to spend a little bit of time looking at it…
Chapter 1: The Sight or Appearance
Looking at a wine’s appearance, even though it doesn’t give that much pleasure in itself (although most wine’s look rather good and shiny), but it prepares you and your mind for what you are going to be tasting.
Say I try a white wine. If I can see that it’s bright and shiny, and that it doesn’t have a very intense color, no brown hues, this is going to be an indication that I am more likely to be with a crisp white wine, unoaked rather than anything else, possibly a dry wine too.
Oaked or aged whites tend to have a deeper and browner color to them than unoaked examples.
If I look at a red wine and I can see that it’s pretty dark and intense, should expect a fair amount of tannins and astringency from it, possibly quite a lot of alcohol, more than is I was looking at a lightly-colored red.
Watch the Video Course about Looking at a Wine’s Appearance
Essentially, looking at a wine, prepares you mentally to what you are going to be tasting, so you are not surprised by it. We all know that if you put something in your mouth that doesn’t taste like what you had anticipated, you are likely to feel a bit uncomfortable about it, so it doesn’t put you in the best mindset to appreciate a wine.
You want to be ready, focused and aware about what you’re going to be drinking.
Learn More About the Color of Wine with our Complete Guide Below:
Chapter 2: The Nose or Smell
Smelling you wine, is were the real appreciation starts.
There is pleasure to be had into smelling something right? Think of smelling a flower for example, or the smell of your grand ma’s apple crumble coming out of the oven!
Taking a little bit of time to smell a wine is part of the pleasure of tasting wine, as it generally smells good with lots of different fruity, floral, or spicy notes.
Secondly, smelling a wine also prepares you for tasting it. Like the appearance, it gives you an indication of what you are about to be tasting.
If I take this white wine versus this sweet wine (see video below for details about the wines in question). This is crisp and vibrant, floral with light notes of lemon, while this other one is full of tropical fruit aromas.
So, I know that here I should probably expect a crisp white with loads of acidity, while here is probably going to be a sweet wine. Taking some time to smell my wine before I taste it, I won’t be surprised by it when I put it in my mouth and I should really enjoy it to the fullest.
Watch the Video Course about Smelling a Wine and Analyzing ‘The Nose of Wine’
Before sniffing a wine, you would normally swirl it.
This is to evaporate the aromas that are dissolved in the alcohol so you can smell them better in your wine. Watch how and why to swirl a wine in the video below:
Learn More about the Scents Found in Wine with the Top 100 Aromas in Wine:
Chapters 3: The Taste and Flavors of Wine
Here you want to be focused on the sensations the wine gives you on the palate.
You want to take a small sip at first. Not too small so you can actually taste the wine, but not too big either or you won’t be able to chew on it and keep it in your mouth very long, it’ll be too overwhelming.
Take a small sip, and get some air through it, so the aromas are dissolved and reach your nose from the back of your palate and you can smell the aromas better. The wine warms up on your palate and then reveals all its subtleties.
So, you can blow bubbles into your wine in your mouth, or some people really prefer to chew on it.
Just remember to always focus and pay attention to all the sensations the wine gives you.
Watch the Video Course about Tasting a Wine Better
For going deeper into the art of wine tasting, I made a video about the 3d dimension to wine (the sixth sense!?) tasting that goes a little bit deeper into this topic. Watch it below:
And that’s it really. Just remember to take your time to appreciate, and more importantly, trust yourself and your own sensations while tasting.
No one’s right or wrong here. What’s important is what YOU feel…
Watch and Learn more on how to test/taste wine in video