Wine Tasting Tips: How to Look Like a Wine Expert
Is that toasted Japanese maple bark? I’m getting some vanilla undertones, though I can’t tell if it’s Madagascan or Honduran.
If you want to learn how to look like a wine expert, you’ve come to the right place. Wine is complex and varied, but is fun to drink and not nearly as hard to talk about as some people make it out to be. Read over the following wine-tasting tips then open a bottle and try it out for yourself:
Inspecting the Cork
Start by inspecting the cork – hold it up to the light, drop it on the table three times, then wave it beneath your nose. Alright, we know that most of these steps aren’t going to tell you anything about the bottle of wine in front of you, but the smell of the cork will give you a first clue into the flavors in the wine. It will also let you know if you’ve ended up with a rare ‘corked’ bottle that has spoiled. If that’s the case, you’ll definitely know and can let you waiter know or bring the bottle back to where you purchased it.
Swirl the Wine & Sniff the Bouquet
Once you pour a glass, the first step is to swirl your wine. Not only is swirling fun, but it does a lot to open up the flavor of your wine and it makes you look like a total pro! Check out our guide on how and why to swirl your wine if you want to learn more (it’s a fascinating stuff). Once you’ve swirled, hold the glass up to your nose and sniff the glass while fluttering your eyelids for an extra special flourish. Smell plays a huge role in our sense of taste, so smelling the wine will hint at the flavors to expect and get your taste buds prepared for that first sip.
Taking the First Sip
Since we’re tasting wine like a pro, the first sip must be celebrated! Take a very small sip with a very loud slurping noise, then furrow your brow while making a series of hmmmm-like noises. All that concentration on the first sip is sure to draw some attention and ensure everyone you know what you’re doing. All there is to do now is talk about the flavor.
Talk about Flavor
Wine lovers enjoy using a wide variety of descriptors to explain the depth of flavor found in wines. While this may seem intimidating to some, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be! You’re talking about what you taste, so there aren’t any wrong answers. We suggest starting with a simple approach – just fill in the blanks:
I can taste a hint of [insert tree], some notes of [insert fruit] with some very subtle tones of [insert spice].
Here are some common descriptors people use for wine: mineral/earthy, grassy, fruity (what kind! – apples, pears, cherries, tropical, currant?), buttery, velvety, oaky, clean/sharp/crisp (based on acid content), sweet or dry (not sweet), light/full bodied, smoky, peppery, spicy, cloves, vanilla, tart, smooth and more. It’s a long list!
Take a look at the bottle and see if you’re tasting any of the same things the winery notes about the wine’s flavors. The more you taste wine, the easier it will become to identify these flavors and the more comfortable you’ll start to feel.
Most important, tasting and drinking wine should be about having fun, not about feeling intimidated or confused. Drink wine with people whose company you enjoy and go wine tasting at welcoming wineries happy to teach you the ropes. You’ll be feeling confident in no time!
If you and your friends want to learn more about wine and what makes it so special, stop by our tasting room for some un-snobbish tasting and, perhaps, a few bottles to take home and show off your new skill set.