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Wine 101: How to Taste

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

We all love to drink wine! However, drinking wine and tasting wine are two very different things. Listed below are the steps used by everyone from wine enthusiasts to wine professionals, to help guide you through the process of wine tasting.



One of the most important reasons we Cellar Beasts do what we do is to help educate our guests. Learning how to critically analyze a glass of wine is an important part of wine tasting, and really helps the drinker more fully understand (and appreciate) what is going on in their glass!


Here is a step-by-step method to help guide you through the process of tasting known as ‘The Five Esses’. Cheers!



#1. SEE

First things first, always make sure to hold your wine glass by the stem. Holding your glass by the bowl can change the temperature of the wine (which, presumably, is at the proper serving temperature).

The first thing you'll want to do after receiving your glass of wine is hold it up to a light source or view it over a white surface. Take a moment to admire the color of the wine. The color can offer a glimpse into its age and depth, among other things. White wines gain color as they age, while red wines lose color. Now, get a sense of your wine. Is the wine clear or cloudy? Thin and watery, or thick and syrupy? All of these can be indicators of how the wine was made, and what its age might be.



#2. SWIRL


Now, swirl the wine around! This breaks the surface tension of the wine and allows the aromas to fill the bowl of your glass.


#3. SMELL


At this point, you have likely caught a hint of the aromas emanating from your wine. Go ahead and Stick your nose into your glass (don’t be shy!) and take a deep breath. Since aroma is a massive part of your taste, this is a crucial step in analyzing a wine. What is it that you smell? If you’re new to wine tasting, start small. For whites- is it fresh and citrusy? Floral? Nutty? For reds- do you get fruit- is it more like raspberries or plums? Or is it earthy- like mushrooms or meat? Once you can describe the basic aromas, dig a little deeper- is this citrus warmer like a clementine, or cool like a lime? Is the fruit more like berries or peaches? The more time you spend with the wine, the more aromas you’ll begin to discover!


#4. SIP

Now that our brains have some information to work with, it's time to take that first sip! Sample a small amount from your glass and slurp the wine through your teeth. Yes, it will be noisy, but that’s OK!

Before thinking about flavor, we want to think about the ABT of the wine (Acid, Body and Tannin). What did the wine feel like in your mouth? Was it acidic (making your mouth salivate)? Was it bitter- also called tannic- and did it create a drying sensation? How acidic or tannic was it? This is an excellent indicator of age. How about the body? Was the wine thin like water, thin like syrup, or something else in-between?


#5. SAVOR


Take the time to truly savor the experience. Reflect on what you just tasted. What were your overall impressions of the wine? What sort of flavors did you discover in the wine? Were they similar to the aromas that you smelled earlier (oftentimes the aromas and flavors can be very different)? Did the wine seem balanced? Or did it have too much of something- too acidic, too bitter, etc? Did the wine have a lingering finish? In other words, could you keep tasting the wine for several moments after you swallowed?


Now sit back, relax and enjoy your bottle!



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