How to taste Wine – Basic Knowledge

Tasting wine is not the same experience as drinking it. It is meant to provide you a higher appreciation of the liquid that you are ingesting. It is in the understanding of the wines that you will taste, that you will be able to understand where they come from and what each of them has to offer. You can’t say that a wine is bad, simply because you don’t like it. They all have their own qualities, whether you enjoy them or not. Here is a quick look on how to taste wine.

The Three Elements

Appearance, taste and smell are the three elements that you want to analyze when you taste wine. It is through your senses that you will be able to get to know a Chardonnay from France and differentiate it from one of the American West Coast. Thankfully, today, these comparisons are easy to make as you can order bottles on the internet from various parts of the world. In Europe, one such platform is Cavesa.


To look at a wine, pour 40cl into a glass. You will need to use a white tablecloth, so that you can look at the liquid on a white background. The first thing you will look for is its colour. It can be red, white or pink. Then, you will study its intensity. Is it a deep red, a yellowish-white, a soft pink? Red wines range from deep purple to pale red, white from colourless to deep gold and rosés from soft pink to reddish pink. The second characteristic to look for is if the wine leaves trails when you move it in the glass. Finally, is it bright or murky? These will provide answers to a variety of questions.


Smelling and tasting are complimentary. However, you should start through smell. You will need to swirl the wine so that it releases its aromas. Insert your nose into the glass, open your mouth and breathe in delicately. Look for the fruits first. Are they more berries, orchard or tropical-like? Do they smell as if they were cooked, or more like jam? Once you have that part down, you can try to discover the other smells. They include flowers, spices, and nuts. Finally look for a smell of vinegar or mould, which would be a sign that the wine had gone bad.


Keep in mind that this is a tasting. You only want to take a small sip and leave it in your mouth. Swirl it around for a few seconds, and then breathe some air into it. It will open up the wine. At this stage, you will recognize (and confirm) many of the discoveries that you made while you were smelling the wine. Once you are done, study its thickness. Then, rate its sweetness. The tannins in some of the wines will leave you a drying sensation; is it there? Ask yourself about the bitterness and the acidity of the liquid in your mouth. Does it provide you with a warm sensation on your palate? The last thing you will look for is its finish, which means how long does the taste remains in your mouth once you spat it.