There are five basic steps in tasting wine: See, swirl, sniff, sip and savor!
To truly experience a wine, you must slow down and let your senses take the lead – sight, smell and taste.
Pour a sampling in a wine glass, tilt the glass away from you and take a good look at the color and clarity. Is the wine clear or cloudy?
What is the color of the wine? If it's a red wine, does it appear to be cherry, maroon, ruby or brownish in color? If you're sampling a white wine, it is light-green, pale-yellow, buttercup, golden or amber?
Color is an indicator of the age of a wine. White wines gain color as they age and will take on a bronze or gold tint. Reds are the opposite. They lose color as they age and may be clearer or have more of a brown tint in appearance. Keep in mind the variety of the grape when judging color intensity – for example, Cabernet will be darker and more opaque than a Pinot Noir.
Firmly hold the stem of the wine glass and gently swirl it in small circles to aerate the wine. This will release the bouquet or aroma of the wine. Observe how the wine rolls down the side of the glass. The streaks are also referred to as "legs" and are an indicator of the body of the wine.
Tip the glass up to your nose and inhale. Your sense of smell is one of the most important elements in wine tasting. Did you know that 80 percent of our sense of taste actually comes from what we smell?
Try to detect the full range of scents, from berry to floral to spicy to earthy.
Is the wine:
- Fruity with scents of berry, plum, grapefruit or melon?
- Floral with notes of violet, lily and rose?
- Herbal with hints of mint, hay, tarragon and rosemary?
- Earthy, reminiscent of mushrooms and dry leaves?
- Spicy or sharp with notes of clove, cinnamon, pepper and spices?
- Nutty, with scents of oak, hazelnut, almond and pistachio?
Take a small sip and let it roll around in your mouth to experience the full flavor of the wine. (Salty and sweet taste buds are located near the front of the tongue, sour taste buds line the sides, while bitter taste buds are found at the very back of the tongue.)
Things to consider:
Body and weight – Is the wine rather thin and light, medium-bodied or full and "chewy?"
Flavor – Is it sweet or acidic, spicy, dry or bitter?
Savor the flavor and swallow. What was the finish like? This is the last impression that a wine leaves after swallowing. Was it light-bodied like water or full-bodied, thicker and richer? This is usually described as either having a "short finish" or "long finish," in which the flavor impressions last for several seconds.
We invite you to come out to the VX Vineyard Tasting Room and put your tasting skills to the test! We're open every weekend from May through Thanksgiving and offer a variety of pinots – whites and reds to sample.