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Wine Tasting Basics

Food & Wine Pairing, Wine, Wine Styles

Wine Tasting Basics: What to Look For In Every Glass

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of wine, it helps to understand the basics of wine tasting. It’s important to learn how to recognize the different characteristics of a wine, not just for enjoying its flavor but also so that you know what type of food will pair well with it. Here are some things you should be looking out for when tasting wine:


The first step in wine tasting basics isn’t actually tasting. It’s looking. Take a moment to observe the color and clarity of your glass. The darker the color, the longer the wine has been aged. White wines usually range from pale yellow through golden hues while reds can range from deep garnet tones to ruby. A red with a deep garnet hue may mean that it was aged longer than five years or from grapes with thicker skins like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.


Believe it or not, the second step in wine tasting basics isn’t tasting either. Instead, smell it! First smell it with your glass still, then smell as you gently swirl the wine. The scent of a wine can tell you quite a lot about where it comes from and how it was made. Ripe, fruity scents tend to come from warmer climates and new world wineries. Earthy, herbal or mineral aromas usually indicate cooler climates and old world regions such as France or Italy. Don’t forget – smell is a key part when tasting because our taste buds rely on aroma and taste working together to form an opinion on what we drink.


Now comes one of the most important parts: actually tasting the wine! Take a sip and savor it. This is where you decide whether your expectations match up with reality. Though sometimes our nose tells us one thing but our tongue another. This is why we recommend smelling your glass before tasting. If what you taste is riper than what your nose told you, then chances are it’s probably from New World countries like Chile or Australia. Whereas if tartness takes over then it could be an Old World country like France or Germany.


Finally we have structure which includes levels of acidity, alcohol content, tannins (for red wines), body (the weightiness) as well as finish which pertains to how long certain flavors remain in your mouth after finishing your sip. High acid wines typically come from cooler climates while full-bodied wines with higher alcohol content typically come from warmer regions such as California or Australia.

So if ever in doubt remember these rules: cool = high acidity; warm = fuller body + higher alcohol content!

Knowing these basics will help make every experience more enjoyable – remember take note (both mentally and written down) so that next time around you’ll better understand why certain types go better together than others. With practice comes knowledge so get out there and grab yourself a bottle today – happy sipping!

If you’d like to learn even more about this check out my book on Amazon – Wine Label Shopping! 100 tasting sheets are included, along with a brief guidebook on what to look for in wines around the world.

Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.



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