How to Taste Wines, 3 Basic Steps / Wine Theme Post 2/8

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This time I will discus about tasting wine. Have you ever thought it would be interesting to learn how to do it like a professional? Or have you thought why they do certain things in certain order? Or what should I be able to smell or taste in this point? If your answer is yes for at least one of those questions carry on reading!

I’ll shortly tell you all the important basic steps of tasting – what to do, what to look at or look for and why. I’ll discus about wine more every Thursday during April and May but I have also attached some good links if you want read more right now. 🙂




– Fill quarter to third of glass with wine

– Hold it by the stem so that you wont warm up the wine (heat can affect the flavor by distorting it and you don’t drink it warm anyway, right? 🙂 )

– One reason why to look wine is that the flavors of wine will get better when it can “breathe” a bit before drinking

– Another reason for this step is that you might be able to find out some interesting things about your wine before actually even smelling it…

A) Age and Color

– Tilt the class and evaluate the color of its edges with white background (tissue, paper). During the aging process white wines get darker and red wines lose some of their color. Red wines might have some sediment at the bottom, but don’t worry it’s normal and it’s because of the winemaking process.

B) Alcohol or Sugar content and “Legs of wine” / “Tears of wine”

– Twirl your class. See how long it takes for the wine to get back down the class. If it takes time, wine is called viscose and it might be described having “legs” or “tears”. These indicate that either there is high amount of alcohol or sugar in your wine. More legs might also indicate that the wine is full-bodied.




– Did you know that what we taste actually is more about what we smell than what we actually taste? So remember to concentrate on this step!

– Move wine a bit in your class and take the first sniff: you can smell primary aromas (more below). In addition in this point you can smell if the wine is okay, it shouldn’t smell bad (too acidic, wet, etc).

2nd sniff after swirling (when wine gets some oxygen it releases more aromas): secondary and tertiary aromas

If you’re a beginner try to look for aroma families instead of separate aromas, is there…


Flowers (rose, lilac, magnolia…) A

Fruits (blackcurrant, lemon, peach…) A & B

Vegetables (green pepper, cabbage…) A & B

Minerals (pencil lead…) A

Earthy aromas (mushrooms, ground…) C

Spices (pepper, vanilla, rosemary…) A & C

Wood (oak, pine…) B

Roasted aromas (toast, coffee, nuts…) C

Balsamic (honey…) C

Animals (bacon, horsey…) C

Chemicals or something foreign (petrol, vinegar…) B & C


  1. A) Primary Aromas: from grapes
  2. B) Secondary Aromas: from winemaking process
  3. C) Tertiary Aromas: from aging





– Circulate wine in mouth (because different parts of tongue are sensitive to different flavors)

– Let some air go trough it (because the wine develops while getting air)

– What flavors do you taste first?

– Do you taste something else after the first flavors?

– You can also evaluate if the wine is balanced or not. In whites there should be balance between acidity and mellowness, and in reds between acidity, mellowness and tannins.

– Mention aftertaste and finish (= time the taste lasts, more than 60 seconds is considered good). How long the taste stays in your mouth? Is it similar to actual taste or does it change? If it changes does it change in a good or a bad way?



Ps. Remember to do notes when you do tasting, it helps learning and makes comparing wines easier! 🙂



Pps. Do you want to learn more? Here are some good articles for that:

  1. Broader article about tasting:
  2. Are you already a pro, then you will enjoy reading this:
  3. My previous post about wine tastings at home (click) and in Paris (click)
  4. Interesting stuff about full-bodied red wines:

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