To my dismay, and yours, the five S’s of wine aren’t sip, sip, sip… Impress your friends at your next wine night by educating them correctly with the five S’s of wine: sight, swirl, sniff, sip and savor. These five wine tasting steps force you to slow down, learn a thing or two about the wine in your glass and lead to a much more luxurious experience!
After pouring your wine into a clear glass, tilt it over a white background at a 45-degree angle. Be careful not to fill your glass up too close to the brim otherwise this angle might cause you to lose some precious vino. The white background coupled with a clear glass helps you identify the colors in your wine more accurately and give you clues about what you’re drinking (grape type, age, body or oak-aging). Go ahead and admire the lovely shades of burgundy or ivory in your glass, and take note of any interesting colors you may spot. For example, many Malbec wines have a purple hue to them in addition to their rich red color. This color (or lack thereof) indicates the level of tannins in your glass.
After you’re done admiring your vino, place your glass on a hard surface, and hold it by the stem. Begin swirling your glass in small, circular motions. It’s all in the wrist! Not only does swirling your wine glass look cool, but it also helps the wine taste better. Swirling exposes the wine to oxygen which releases aromas and softens the wine. This gesture helps to aerate your wine, something that is essential for many reds that need to breathe. But hold off on mouth-to-mouth for right now.
Fun fact: after a few swirls, you’ll notice some wine dripping down the side of the glass. The string-like patterns that the drips form are called legs. Typically, the thicker the legs, the more tannins in your wine.
Once your wine has had some time to breathe, swirl it once more and stick your schnoz in the glass. While the swirling motion assists in aeration, it also releases all of your wine’s lovely scents, including smells like pomegranate, apple and even cedar. Be sure to take it all in with your nose, because our sense of smell accounts for 85 percent of what we taste in wine. This is one of the trickiest steps in the process. It can be difficult to get past wine smelling like wine, we get it. So when you’re just starting out, take short sniffs and use broad descriptive categories. Break down the scents into groups like citrus, tropical fruits, orchard and dark fruits.
Finally! The step we’ve all been waiting for. But notice it’s ‘sip’ not ‘gulp.’ Practice your self-control and begin taking small sips from your glass. Try swishing around the wine so it coats the inside of your mouth to get the full effect. Notice how the wine moves across your palate, how your tongue reacts and what lingers after swallowing. Do you salivate from the acidity? Do you taste sweetness? These concentrated sips will help you pick out certain attributes of your wine that you otherwise wouldn’t get from an elegant chug.
After you swallow your wine, take a moment to evaluate the wine and its overall complexity. Sip and repeat! Wine tasting is all about enjoyment, so have some fun with it. Once you’re done swirling and sipping and savoring, reward yourself with a heavy pour and drink your wine as you do best.