Wine Tasting

Five Steps to Get More Out of Any Tasting

Learning a bit more about wine tasting will go far to further your enjoyment. While we feel there shouldn’t be too many rules around the topic, here are a few that we reliably find elevate any tasting experience.

Follow these five steps to get more out of any tasting:
Sight
Smell
Taste
Touch
Overall Impression

Step 1: Sight

Pick up the glass by the stem to give yourself a clear view of the wine. Hold the glass up to a light source, or against a white background such as a tablecloth or napkin, to get the best view.

Note the color and clarity of the wine. White wines may range from pale yellow to amber gold. Red wines can be inky purple, brick red, or many shades in between. Color Can be a sign of a wine’s grape variety, age or concentration of flavor.  As red wines get older, they turn lighter in hue, while white wines deepen in color over time.

Step 2:  Smell

Exploring the aromas of wine is an important step to enjoying the full tasting experience. Our sense of smell is more fine-tuned than our sense of taste, so many of the complex flavors in wine are actually better observed through smell rather than taste.

Move your glass in small circles to swirl the wine and release the aromas. Helpful hint: keep the base of the glass on a tabletop to help avoid spilling as you swirl! After several seconds of swirling, hold the glass up to your nose and inhale.

Common aromas you may notice include notes of flowers, citrus, and tropical fruits for white wines, or berries, earth, and spice for red wines. Use the Wine Aroma Wheel to help you evaluate the aromas of the wine. Start at the center of the wheel to identify the type of aroma you notice, and then move straight outward to identify the aroma more precisely.

Step 3: Taste

The human tongue can only taste five primary flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory. However, we can actually use our sense of smell to help us perceive more flavors during this step.

To begin, take a sip of the wine and swirl it your mouth. While the wine is still in your mouth, inhale air slowly through your mouth, as if you were drinking from a straw.

Describe the flavors you taste. You may notice some of the same fruit, floral or spice aromas that you noticed while smelling the wine. You may also notice some of the five tastes, such as sweetness on the tip of your tongue, sourness from the acidity of the wine, or slight bitterness from the tannins.

Step 4: Touch

A wine’s body or mouthfeel can be described as light, medium, or full. Whites such as Pinot Grigio are considered light-bodied, while reds such as Cabernet and Syrah are usually medium to full-bodied.

Take a sip of wine and focus on how it feels in your mouth. For example, Pinot Grigio will likely feel very light, while Chardonnay often has a rounder mouthfeel due to its fuller body.

Note the lingering impression that remains in your mouth after you swallow the wine. This is called the "finish," and can either be fairly short or quite long.

Step 5: Overall Impression

First, a simple question: Did you enjoy the wine?

To answer, you might mentally combine your impressions of the wine's appearance, aromas, taste, body, and finish – or simply go with your instinct.

Generally, excellent wines offer a harmonious balance of these various components, along with intriguing character, or personality. The wines you love will be those you return to time and again, however. So, in the end, what’s most important is your enjoyment, and the way the wine enhances the moment. 

Zac Posen

Ecco Domani has partnered with Zac Posen to create an exclusive, limited-edition design for our Pinot Grigio bottle.

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