Tasting a wine…what an exercise! But you do need to be an expert to enjoy it.

BlogWines proposes you to have an introduction to wine tasting. That would give you some tips to perform it and also gives you some useful definition/vocabulary.

Tasting wine is usually done in 3 main steps:

Step 1: Look

Step 2: Smell

Step 3: Taste


STEP 1: Look

a. Colours

There are 3 main colours:

  • Red ( to be more precise: Purple, Ruby, Pink, Salmon, Brown).
  • Pink ( usually used for Rose Wine).
  • White ( to be more precise: Straw, Yellow, Gold).

Why checking the color?

The wine color can give you more details about the ageing and conditions of the wine. Usually, the red wine can lose color with the time whereas the white wine will deepen in color. However, depending on the oxidation and  the storage quality, the color might also vary.

Do you know?

  • British call the wine colour “hue”.
  • The red colour only comes from the skin of the blackgrapes.

b. Legs

It can also be called Tears.

Why checking the tears? That will give you details about the level of alcohol and/or the presence of residual sugar in the wine.

How to do it? This is actually quite easy: swirl the glass (like drawing small circles) for several seconds. Then observe the legs appearing on the glass:

  • If you notice legs moving quickly, it means that the wine is light/medium-bodied and low in sugar.
  • If the legs are thick and make their way back down slowly, then the wine seems to be full-bodied with a high concentration of alcohol and/or with a high level of sugar concentration.

Do you know?

  • There is a special term used to describe particles appearing in a glass of wine: flocculation or flocculate material.



STEP 2 – Smell

The aim is to give you an idea of the wine character but also check if the wine has any default.

  • Swirling the wine a bit and then smell. It is highly recommended to tilt the glass forward to about 40° and lean your head forward.
  • When you sniff the wine after swirling the wine, you can detect faulty aromas. That could be the case when the wine smells vinegar, nail varnish, musty or even corked.



STEP 3 – Taste

This last part is the most important but also the most difficult one.

a. Flavour

There are many flavours you can feel, but see below the main flavour characteristics:

  • Fruits and flowers flavours: that will indicate the presence of grape variety. For instance blackcurrant for Cabernet-Sauvignon or flowers for Riesling.
  • Vegetables:  this aroma is usually found in the fresh young wines. For instance, green bell pepper, asparagus or cut grass. This is one of the main caracteristics of the Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Spice and oaks: the using of oak can provide some sweet spices flavours (e.g. vanilla). It can be also linked with certain varieties of grapes (e.g. Shiraz will give peppery aroma).
  • Other flavours: wet leaves and mushrooms aromas can be found in wines which have been maturing for a long time in bottle.


b. The other characteristics

  • Acidity: describes an element of the taste that a wine gives in the mouth. The higher the acidity is, the more the taste will be sour or tart. And vice-versa: low acidity can make the wine tasting flabby and flat. High acidity makes a wine taste too sour or tart; low acidity makes the wine taste flat and flabby.
  • Tannin: gives dry and astringent tastes. You can feel it on your tongue (on the top and in the middle).

Do you know?

  • When the waiter asks you to try the wine in a restaurant, you will be able to refuse the wine only if there is a default (e.g. smells vinegar, the wine is corked..). You cannot change your order just because you do not like the wine.
  • Wine can be full, medium or light-bodied. The main factor to determine the bodied level of your wine is the alcohol degree. The higher s it, the more viscuous the wine will be. The usual rule is as follows: light-bodied are the wines under 12.5% (e.g. Riesling), wines between 12.5% and 13.5% are considered as medium-bodied (e.g. Pinot Gorggio, French burgundy) and finally wines above 13.5% are called full-bodied (e.g Syrah/Shiraz, sherry). 

There are many other criterias and things to take into consideration during the wine tasting but we hope that those tips will help you to enjoy a bit more your next wine tasting!


Aurélie is the main Editor and Author of Blogwines.com She particularly likes French wines and specialized in Champagne. She was born and raised surrounded by vineyards where she grew her passion for wines.

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