To have skill in the art of wine tasting it isn't necessary to have
an advanced degree in oenology (the science of winemaking).
However, listening to professional wine tasters, it is easy to get
that impression. The terms bouquet, clarity, earthy,
crisp, open, and nostalgic could be difficult
for many to understand.
To begin it is best to let someone knowledgeable decide how to serve
wine. Even serving wine requires some education and experience. Some
wines are best served at room temperature (red generally), while
some should be served chilled (white generally). Room temperature
should be around 60F for reds and chilled wines should start at
around 50F and be adjusted to taste.
Some wines should be served right away (whites with many exceptions,
while others (reds again with exceptions) should be allowed to
breathe or sit uncorked in the bottle, exposed to air for 15 minutes
or more. Some require decanting (filtering the sediment out) before
they are served particularly Ports and wines that have aged
Pour the wine into an ordinary wine glass no more than half full and
swirl it a bit to generate additional 'winey' vapor. Avoid heavy
glasses so the wine can easily be seen. Then examine to determine if
it is clear, hazy or opaque.
Smell the wine briefly and pay close attention by closing the eyes.
This may seem pretentious but will help to focus on one or two sense
taste and smell over sight. Some experts sometimes misidentify wines
in blind tests.
Attempt to identify the odor. Determine if the odor is fruity like
grapes or apples or oranges. Chardonnay sometimes resembles apples
or figs (especially when aged in oak.) Other wines like Cabernet
Sauvignon or Merlots smell more like cedar or pine needles. Syrah
will bring forth thoughts of black pepper or floral scents. It is
not entirely subjective and there is often wide agreement among
experts and amateurs alike, however impressions do differ on degree.
Now take a small sip and run it around the tongue to get many
different taste buds involved. Different areas of the tongue are
more attuned to sweet detection, other more salty or bitter.
Set the wine aside or finish it and return another day. Do not try
too much or too many varieties at one time. One per day is preferred
but will take a great amount of time. No more than three should be
tasted per day; otherwise the ability to discern differences will be
On a different day try reds and concentrate on sensing the oak
storage cask. Some California reds have hints of chocolate or coffee
while a fine Merlot may carry a 'tarry' quality preferred by those
that favor strong scents.
In all cases, subtlety is the key. Good wines don't have a strong
scent. Before long anyone can be swirling around a glass of wine and
tossing around 'zesty', 'shy', and 'brave' like an expert.
Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.
Sip of Wine
Wine Aging Table
Wine and Cheese
Wine and Health
British Columbia, Canada
Cotes Du Rhone