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Stages of Wine Tasting

August 27th, 2012 by Pamela Murski

We often serve complimentary wine  from this local winery near the B&B.     These tips for wine tasting will enhance your unique experience at each winery that much more fun!

There are four stages to tasting wine. Even though this process is called wine “tasting”, it’s really more of a complete evaluation using all your senses.

First Stage:

The first stage is evaluating your wine’s appearance for color (both hue and depth), and clarity. Move the wine around in your glass by tilting it from side to side. Hold it up to the light or in front of a white background.saucyredwineglassinwinery

In your red wines notice the variety and intensity of colors presented. Your red wines should not be at all brown or flat looking.

In your white wines notice the shades of gold and yellow presented. You may even see a hint of green.

White wines begin pale and tend to darken with age. Red wines begin a deep, bright shade of red or purple and brown as they age.

When judging the appearance of your wine you may notice its “legs”, the oily streams of liquid that run down the inside of your glass. Legs are not an indication of wine quality, simply note the presence of higher alcohol content.

Second Stage……

is evaluating your wine’s nose, aroma, and bouquet. Swirl the wine gently in your glass to open it up to more surface air. This will release more of its aromas. Take a few moments to let it breathe.

The way in which your olfactory senses perceive the wine will greatly influence how your taste buds will perceive it. Dip your nose into the glass and inhale deeply.

Some aromas you may detect are fruit, flower, spice, earth, or wood; but don’t limit yourself. There are dozens of adjectives you can use to describe an aroma. Allow yourself to be creative and make a note of your initial impressions. Remember, no observation is incorrect

Third Stage…….

The third stage is evaluating your wine’s taste or palate. Sip a small amount of your wine, but do not swallow it yet. Let it roll around inside your mouth for a few moments so you can detect its flavors.

Experienced wine tasters will introduce air into their mouths to bring out still more aromas and flavors. You can do this by tipping your head slightly forward and down, pursing your lips as if to whistle, then breathing in through your mouth while breathing out through your nose.

When tasting your wine you are looking for a balance between acid, alcohol, and tannin. You want these elements to be in harmony, without one taste overpowering another.saucyredwineglassinwinery

You may perceive sweetness which is, by definition, a wine’s level of residual sugar. However, the sweetness of a wine is actually controlled by the amounts of acid, alcohol and tannins present.

In general, the higher the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine will taste.

Occasionally, a wine tasting guide will confuse sweet with fruit. Sweet wines can taste fruity or not. Dry wines with low levels of residual sugar and no noticeable sweetness can still taste fruity.

  • Too much acid will make your wine taste sharp or tart. Too little acid will make it taste flat and not refreshing.
  • Too much alcohol will make it taste overly sweet and hot and biting as it’s swallowed.
  • Too much tannin will make your wine astringent and will make your mouth pucker. Tannins give wine its body and will soften as a wine ages and is exposed to more air.

Lastly, you’ll want to note the body of your wine, or how it feels in your mouth. Wines will be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied.

Fourth Stage…….

The final stage in the wine tasting guide is evaluating your wine’s finish, the sensation left in your mouth after swallowing. The longer the flavors linger on your palate, the longer the finish.


Remember that it may take months or years of proper wine tasting to fully understand and be able to detect the subtle variation in all types of wine.  You’ll discover what you like and what you don’t like which is the first important step




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