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How to Taste Wine: A Beginner's Guide

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Wine tasting is an experience rooted in the senses – seeing, smelling, and tasting differences between one varietal and another. It is the best way to grasp nuances. If you want to know how to taste wine, this guide will help you to understand the art of wine tasting, shedding light on how to identify flavors and aromas, and how to choose the ideal wine for any occasion.

What Does Wine Taste Like?

Each bottle of wine is a distinct combination of flavors and scents. Factors like grape variety, the region of cultivation, and the winemaking process influence a wine's taste profile. That means, for example, a Pinot Noir from Oregon will likely taste different from one produced in Burgundy, France. Other things to compare against are altitudes, vintages (i.e. what year the wine was harvested), whether the wine was oaked or not, and different levels of sweetness in sparkling wines.

The flavor spectrum of wine varies widely – from sweet to dry, from light and fruity to robust and spicy. Tasting wine involves exploring these nuances, finding what pleases your taste buds, and broadening your wine knowledge.

Use wine glasses that are the same size

There are a lot of different wine glasses out there – some claiming to be the best for reds, others suggesting they're best for whites, and even some that go as far as saying, "best glass for Burgundy". No matter which you choose, be sure to give wines equal treatment. This means using the same type of glass for the two (or more) wines you're comparing.

Also, keep in mind things like dishwasher detergents, cabinets, or wine residue can throw off the tasting experience. Make sure your glassware is clean and aroma-free before you pour. To ensure this, hold the glass up to the light, give it a sniff, and – if needed – give it a quick wash and dry.

How to Taste Wine

Tasting wine involves more than just drinking it. To know how to taste wine, you need to engage all your senses. Here’s how:

1. Start by looking at the wine's color and clarity. Do this by tilting the glass over a white sheet of paper or tablecloth. Make notes (mental or physical) about the hue and opacity.

2. Gently swirl the glass to release its aromas.

3. Once satisfied with your swirl, take a moment to smell the wine. What scents do you detect? Fruity, earthy, or maybe floral?

4. Take a sip. As you taste, let the wine coat your palate. Assess the sweetness, acidity, tannins, and alcohol content. Do the flavors match the aromas you noted before?

This mindful procedure of tasting not only enhances the enjoyment of wine but also deepens your understanding and appreciation of the wine’s complexity.

Tasting Notes

Creating tasting notes is an excellent way to document your wine experiences. Compare the flavors of red and white wines. How does the taste evolve with time? Record your observations as you sample different wines. Note aspects like appearance, aroma, and taste. For example, was the red wine rich with cherry and oak undertones? Was the white wine zesty with a hint of citrus?

By engaging all your senses and keeping detailed tasting notes, you can deepen your appreciation and knowledge of wine. A crucial aspect of this journey is the ability to preserve wine effectively, especially when exploring different varieties over time. This is where Coravin's wine preservation systems come into play. Coravin allows you to taste and enjoy wines without needing to finish the entire bottle. Whether you're sampling a bold red today and revisiting it in a few years to explore how it has aged, or if you're comparing different wines and don’t want the worry of wastage, Coravin provides the perfect solution. With Coravin, you can savor every wine at its best, experiencing its evolution over time to make every tasting a memorable one.