The Nonexperts Guide to Tasting Wine Like a Pro


When you think of wine tasting you might think of sommeliers sitting around a vineyard with 10 different glasses of wine all discussing the smell of their wine as the “oak trees of California, mixed with a hint of cherry from the South of Spain.”

Is wine that complicated? Aren’t you just supposed to drink it? Yes and yes.

Even if you aren’t an expert you can develop skills needed to identify and appreciate wine just through your four senses. You don’t have to be great at it, but we think it’s important to know the steps needed to taste wine. In this article we will outline the basic steps to help you taste wine like a pro.

The Tools You Need

First of all, wine is like a fingerprint, each type has a different make-up; they look different, taste different and smell different. Luckily, you already have the tools you need to become a wine tasting pro: your four senses.

Eyes – What is the color of the wine?
Smell – What does the smell tell you about the wine?
Taste – What flavors can you taste?
Feel – What is the texture of the wine?

Now, you might not be able to smell all the different aromas and flavors in your first try. Wine tasting is definitely an art people perfect overtime. The best piece of advice I can give you is to trust your instincts. If you think you smell cherries you probably do, if you think you taste lemon, you probably do. Always trust your gut. It might be wrong sometimes but that’s ok, tasting wine is a learning process.

Steps to Tasting Wine

1. Look at the color

This is an easy step. Take a moment to hold your glass up and look at it. You can tilt your wine glass to the side and note how the color changes from the center of the glass to the edges. The color of the wine can determine the age. White wine becomes darker with age while red wines tend to turn brownish with age.

2. Swirl the wine

Now you’re ready to swirl. Swirling is a technique that allows the wine to “breath,” basically you are allowing oxygen in which makes smelling the wine easier. When you swirl, do not hold the cup of the glass itself, the heat from your hand warms the wine. Instead hold the stem of the glass and slowly move your wrist in small circles. It’s a weird movement, but practice makes perfect.

Once you swirl it hold the glass up and just notice the sides of the glass. You will see the wine running down the glass (also called the viscosity of the wine). Fun fact, the closer the lines are together the higher the alcohol content.

3. Sniff it

Now you are ready to sniff it, this is the most important part. Hold the rim of your glass up to your nose and take a big sniff. Lots of wine experts use the “Dissociation Method” which is basically when you pretend you are not actually smelling wine and simply identify what you smell. Again, trust your instincts. Here are some of the common aromas and flavors you can be smelling:

Red – Fruit





Black Tea

4. Sip it

Now you are finally ready to taste the wine, but don’t swallow it right away. Roll the wine around your mouth, allowing all your tastebuds to get the full experience. You’ll be able to detect if the wine is sweet, sour, meaty, salty, bitter and so on. Refer to the little chart above to figure out what you might be tasting.

5. Drink it

Finally, the best step of all! Take note of what you just tasted and smelled. If you are tasting one wine and you like it drink it! If you don’t like it have the waiter take it back or move onto the next one. Everyone has different wine preferences based on your taste buds, don’t be discouraged if you only like sweet wines and your friend likes heavy reds. Everyone is different. Our number one rule: Don’t drink it if you don’t like it.

If you haven’t already take our quiz to discover new wines you will love!



Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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