Basic Tips in Wine Testing: A Beginner’s Guide

by Shona Milne on September 28, 2013

A beginner’s guide to training oneself in wine tasting

Anyone can drink wine but only a select few can understand the subtle art of wine tasting. Just like how the judges in the hit series MasterChef grade food carefully, wine is tasted and dissected delicately according to its look, aroma, and taste. A wine tasting task may sound daunting but in reality, you only need to follow a few, simple steps in order to do it properly. Once you learn the basics and with a little bit of practice, you will be able to taste wines like a pro.

First step: Check out the wine’s color
The first step you should do in tasting wine is to check its color. It would help if you check a glass of wine against a white background in order to see if it’s free of any unwanted residues. As the saying goes, “Wine tastes better with age”, as a general rule, most aged red wines will have orange traces on the rim of its color compared to fresher red wines. As for white wines, older ones tend to have a darker color than its younger counterparts.

Second step: Sniffing the wine
This step will allow you to know the ingredients of the wine you’re about to taste. First, give the wine a swirl for about 10 seconds to release the aroma. Then, hover your nose on top of the glass and inhale deeply. Try to identify the fruits, flowers, herbs, and other scents in the wine. For example, when you smell the M&S Wine Artius Gran Reserva, you will be able to note hints of raspberry, rose, and vanilla in it. Don’t worry if you can’t identify them all on the first try because you will still give it a taste after.

Final step: tasting the wine
Wine tasting guru Stacy Slinkard mentions about the four key elements that you’ll find in wine: its alcohol content, acidity, tannin levels, and its residual sugar. Ideally, a good wine has a good balance of these components. Aside from this balance, it is also important to note the wine’s texture: is it light or heavy? Is it creamy or dry? Did it leave a sugary trail on your tongue or was it bland?

After tasting a few glasses of wine, it is a good idea to keep a record of your findings. The aroma, taste, and texture will help you identify if a certain wine will go well with a light snack or a heavy meal. Make sure to include the wine’s name, year it was produced, and the manufacturer for future reference. As your list grows, your experience and opinion about which wine is good or bad will also broaden.

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