Wine Tasting – Where to Start?

We recommend that you commence your wine tasting journey with our Shiraz or Pinot Noir. Red wine has more distinct notes than white and are therefore easier to identify.

No one can concentrate effectively in a busy or chaotic environment, and this holds true for wine tasting. Allow yourself to be in a quiet space. Eliminate cooking smells and other household aromas and ensure your glass is clean and not too small.

To ensure you are drinking your wine at the correct temperature, refer to our blog – from Shiraz to Sparkling.

If your glass smells musty then pour a small amount of wine into it and swirl it around. This is called ‘conditioning’ the glass. Unless you are drinking Chateau Lafite it is best to empty the wine glass after this and pour a new glass.

Have a look at your glass of wine from above and note the depth of colour. Shiraz tends to be purple/black, whilst a Pinot Noir is much lighter due to a lack of pigment in the skin of the grape.

Now hold your glass of wine up to a window or light source. A good quality wine should be clear and bright.

To gauge the age of the wine, tilt the glass so the wine flows towards the rim. If a white wine looks brown towards the edge, it suggests it may have been oxidized. The colours to be aware of for a red wine are an orange or dark brick colour.

Lastly, place your glass on a flat surface and swirl the contents around. Place your nose over (not in) the glass and gently allow the aromas to fill your nostrils. Put the wine down and allow the aroma to be processed. A clever trick is to disassociate from the thought that you are tasting wine. Close your eyes, take several rapid sniffs and then allow the aroma to take shape in your mind. It may remind you of Great Auntie Gladys’ perfume or a bowl of cherries on a hot summers’ day. By personalizing the aromas, you will become more familiar with the various bouquets.

With practice, you will be able to identity the primary aromas, which are usually fruits or berries. The secondary aromas are yeasty, such as cheese, bread, cream etc. And the tertiary aromas arise from how the wine is stored and aged. Expect to notice vanilla (oak ageing), spices, or woody aromas. To reset your sense of smell after inhaling the bouquet, simply smell your forearm, this will neutralize the aromas. You may prefer to limit this step to when you are at home. Not when you are in a wine bar or restaurant.

And at long last it is time for you to taste the wine! Take a small sip, as if you were drinking through a straw. This aerates the wine and releases more of the flavours. The taste should be balanced, neither too sweet nor sour.

You may find many other expressions regarding wine tasting, such as ‘legs, ‘tears’ and ‘complexity.’ But for the average wine drinker, the above suggestions will greatly improve your wine drinking experience.

The wine drinker’s main objective is to enjoy it. Trust your own palate and know that if the wine pleases you, it has met its purpose.