Wine Tasting Tips and Terms


The 5 S's of Wine Tasting

  • 1. SEE: Look at the wine color against a white surface. Aside from its beauty, the color tells you a lot about the wine in the glass. As a white wine ages, it becomes darker, more golden in color. As a red wine ages, it loses color. Methods of aging, grape varietal and climate also affects color.
  • 2. SWIRL: Holding the glass by its stem, simply swirl the wine in your glass. Swirling opens up the aromas and flavors and introduces oxygen, which will help soften a young red wine’s tannins.
  • 3. SNIFF: Start smelling the wine a few inches from the rim of the glass. Often people miss aromas by plunging their nose straight into the glass. Note the types of aromas, their intensity and harmony. (If there are unpleasant smells coming from your glass, it may indicate that the wine is flawed – an unfortunate flaw with using real cork closures.)
  • 4. SIP: Take a sip and “inhale” the wine – sort of like a backwards whistle. In other words, forget your mother’s rules and SLURP it. Now move the wine around in your mouth. There are only four things that we actually taste: sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and acidity. Everything else comes from “smelling” the wine in the mouth.
    By slurping the wine, the smell draws the aromas into the nasal passage where the flavors can be identified. The weight of the wine should be noted (this will help with food pairing suggestions later on).
  • 5. SAVOR: Think about what you’re tasting. Is it full, light, crisp, buttery, well balanced or overly acidic? Does it have a long finish or an abrupt end? Most importantly do you like it or hate it?

Now, of course, you’re not always going to have the time to go through this ritual so here’s a quick trick:
Tip your head back, take a sip, wait 2.2 seconds and decide what you think about the wine.