How to Taste Wine Like a Pro
Learning how to taste the complexity of wine will deepen your appreciation for both wines and winemakers. When you learn how to use your basic sense of look, taste, and smell, you will be tasting wine like a professional in no time.
Keep in mind that you can smell thousands of unique scents, but your taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. In fact, the combination of smell and taste can help you determine noticeable flavors.
Wine Tasting Like a Pro
When you pour a glass of wine, check out the color and clarity. Tilt the glass away from you and inspect the color of the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass.
Ask yourself, “What color is it?” If it’s a red wine, the color is either maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick, or brownish. If it's a white wine, it’s clear, pale, yellow, light green, golden, amber, or hazel.
Next, check the wine’s opacity. Ask questions like:
“Is the wine watery or dark, translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear?”
“Can you see sediment?”
Take the glass and give it a swirl. Then look again for sediment.
An older wine will have more orange tinges than younger red wines. Older white wines are darker than younger white wines when comparing the same varietal at different ages. A lightly colored red wine is associated with lighter reds, less tannic, and generally with less body and alcohol content than dark ones.
A wine’s color can tell you about its age, and the visual texture also gives an essential indication of style, bubbles in sparkling wine, a thicker texture indicates high sugar content or alcohol, and sediment highlights an extended bottle aging.
Our sense of smell is critical when properly analyzing a glass of wine. You want to get a good impression of your wine’s aroma before exploring its taste. First, swirl your glass for a solid 10 seconds to help vaporize some of the wine’s alcohol and release more of its natural aromas.
Then, take a quick whiff to gain a first impression. After your initial whiff, stick your nose down into the glass and take a deep inhale through your nose. Question yourself, “Do you smell oak, berry, flowers, vanilla, or citrus?” and “What is your second impression?”
A wine’s aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality and unique characteristics. Swirl a third time and let the aromas blend and sniff again. Smelling the wine will prepare you for the actual tasting and give you a first real insight into the wine’s aromatic profile.
Now that you’ve formed a mental image of the wine, start with small sips and let them roll around your mouth. Unlike look and smell, analyzing the palate uses all three of our senses. The sense of taste has four main components: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness. The wine’s aromas get to your nose through the back of your mouth, relieving the wine’s flavors.
The sense of touch is also used. The inside of our mouths is covered with receptors that can analyze temperature and texture. The wine’s body and its tannic structure are given by the sense of touch.
Wine Tasting at Metro Wine
Metro Wine offers a wide selection of wines focusing on pairing the right wine with any dish or event. Our wine tasting experts are always available to answer questions (such as what’s the difference between Champagne and Prosecco?), offer suggestions, and work with your caterer or event planner. You can visit our store on 169 Charlotte street and enjoy tasting a variety of our featured wines.
We host Wine Classes, The Asheville Wine Focus Group, and The Blind Tasting League. Please see our event calendar for all our weekly tastings and special events.