Wine tasting is an art form – or so the experts would have you believe…
Tasting wine can be a bit of a daunting experience because most people know that there is a correct way to drink wine, however, most people don’t actually know how to drink wine properly.
We’ve therefore broken this down into a simple step by step process so that you can truly enjoy wine the way it’s supposed to be consumed.
How to Drink Wine Properly
Step 1 – Wine Selection
Choosing your wine is of course the first step and it’s actually one most people struggle with.
When buying wine in a shop, look at the vintage (age), geographical location (some regions produce better types of wine than others), and alcohol content (look for 12.5% – 14%).
Now we know there are a lot of options out there so start with some general/popular types of wine.
For red wine, this would be a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. For white wine, you could look at Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or a Chardonnay.
If you’re in a restaurant, don’t feel pressured into making a hasty decision.
The wine expert or restaurant server knows how to help you choose a wine you’ll like and are not there to sell you the most expensive bottle which is the general view.
To help them help you, let them know your budget (people often get pressured into buying more expensive wine because they feel they need to) and let them know your taste preferences.
These could be:
- Wine type – white, red, or rose
- What dishes you’ll order – known as wine pairing
- Taste – bitter, sweet, fruity, dry (or a combination)
Step 2 – Swirling
Wine glasses are made tall with a narrow rim allowing you room to swirl the wine (to release its aromas) and the key when pouring wine is to not fill the glass.
A good rule to follow here is the rule of thirds. ⅓ fill a wine glass as a standard pour while still learning to drink wine properly.
Some types of wine will require a different amount to be poured but sticking to ⅓ of a wine glass is a good baseline to follow.
Step 3 – Smell the Wine
Taste and flavour are actually two different things. Taste comes from the taste buds whereas a flavour is a combination of taste and scent.
This is why smelling your wine is such a crucial aspect when it comes to tasting wine and is something that beginners will usually skip over.
I’ve been guilty of smelling a glass of wine and pretending to take in the scent, simply because I’ve noticed wine experts do this in the past and I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of this?
Well, the scent is a key part of enjoying wine so really take the time to capture all the scents that the wine has to offer.
To do this, swirl the wine around the glass to let the wine come into more contact with the air and release all of its aromas.
It’s good practice to do this several times to really take in the wine’s aromas before moving on to the next step which is tasting the wine.
Step 4 – Taste the Wine
To truly enjoy wine, you can’t “knock it back”.
Much like swirling the wine around a glass aerates it and releases its aromas, tasting a wine involves getting it onto all of your taste buds.
Roll the wine around your mouth and tongue for 10 – 15 seconds to allow it to hit all your taste buds and release all of its complex flavours.
Once you’ve sipped the wine and let it hit your taste buds, the final step (before drinking the wine) is to let it sit in your mouth for a moment.
Much like taking in the aromas of the drink several times before sipping it helps to appreciate the flavour, letting the wine sit in your mouth temporarily helps you to truly get a sense of the taste.
By doing this, once you drink the wine you’ll be able to appreciate the flavour more.
A good quality wine will have a finish (aftertaste) that should stay present on your tongue and throat for a short duration of time allowing you to enjoy the wine after swallowing it.
Step 5 – Drinking Wine
Wine is best enjoyed when sipped and savoured.
The purpose of drinking wine properly is to find a wine you enjoy and this is where the complexities of pouring, smelling, and sipping comes into play.
When following the basic steps above, the outcome should be that one sip leads to another because you enjoy the wine.
If you didn’t enjoy the first few sips, it’s not for you and move on to the next one (not necessarily on the same day).
Once you get to this stage you can up your wine tasting skills to start pairing it with foods and uncover the different aromas, tannins, and flavours that the 1000s or wines have to offer.
Can you put wine in cocktails?
Absolutely yes you can!
We teamed up with ThinK Wine on this guide to cocktails with wine.
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