How to Wine Taste – a quick guide to wine tasting

I can’t think of a better way to begin this new blog than with a short wine tasting guide. It helped me a lot when I began to study this wonderful world of wine tasting.

Extract from: Wine Tasting: A Profesional Handbook. By Ronald S. Jackson. Elsevier 2002.

Each sample should be poured into identical, clear, tulip-shaped, wine glasses. They should each be filled (1/4 to 1/3 full) with the same volume of wine.


I. Appearance
1 – View each sample at a 30° to 45° angle against a bright, white background.
2 – Record separately the wine’s:clarity (absence of haze) color hue (shade or tint) and depth (intensity or amount of pigment) viscosity (resistance to flow) effervescence (notably sparkling wines)

II. Odor “in-glass”
1 – Sniff each sample at the mouth of the glass before swirling.
2 – Study and record the nature and intensity of the fragrancea (see Figs 1.3 and 1.4)
3 – Swirl the glass to promote the release of aromatic constituents from the wine.
4 – Smell the wine, initially at the mouth and then deeper in the bowl.
5 – Study and record the nature at intensity of the fragrance.
6 – Proceed to other samples.
7 – Progress to tasting the wines (III)

III. “In-mouth” sensations

(a) Taste and mouth-feel
1 – Take a small (6 to 10 ml) sample into the mouth.
2 – Move the wine in the mouth to coat all surfaces of the tongue, cheeks and palate.
3 – For the various taste sensations (sweet, acid, bitter) note where they are percieved, when first detected, how long they last, and how they change in perception and intensity.
4 – Concentrate on the tactile (mouth-feel) sensations of astringency, prickling, body, temperature, and “heat”.
5 – Record these perceptions and how they combine with one another.

(b) Odor
1 – Note the fragrance of the wine at the warmer temperatures of the mouth.
2 – Aspirate the wine by drawing air through the wine to enhance the release of its aromatic constituents.
3 – Concentrate on the nature, development and duration of the fragrance. Note and record any differences between the “in-mouth” and “in-glass” aspects of the fragrance

(c) Aftersmell
1 – Draw air into the lungs that has been aspirated through the wine for 15 to 30 s.
2 – Swallow the wine (or spit it into a cuspidor).
3 – Breath out the warmed vapors through the nose.
4 – Any odor detected in this manner is termed aftersmell; it is usually found only in the finest or most aromatic wines.

Although fragrance is technically divided into the aroma (derived from the grapes) and bouquet (derived from fermentation, processing and aging), descriptive terms are more informative.

IV. Finish

1 – Concentrate on the olfactory and gustatory sensations that linger in the mouth.
2 – Compare these sensations with those previously detected.
3 – Note their character and duration.

V. Repetition of assessment
1 – Reevaluate of the aromatic and sapid sensations of the wines, beginning at II.3—ideally several
times over a period of 30 min.
2 – Study the duration and development (change in intensity and quality) of each sample.

Finally, make an overall assessment of the pleasurableness, complexity, subtlety, elegance, power, balance, and memorableness of the wine. With experience, you can begin to make evaluations of its potential— the likelihood of the wine improving in its character with additional aging.

The most important part is the “repetition of assessment”!