Step 1 – Sight
- Hold your glass up to the light to look at the wine. Wines should be clear and bright. Cloudiness is often the first sign of a problem.
- Look at the colour of the wine:
- White wines range from very pale green to a richer, golden colour.
- Generally, a paler wine has a lighter body while a darker wine is more full bodied.
- Swirl the wine in your glass to check the body. “Legs” or “tears” are traces left on the side of the glass. These suggest either a high alcoholic content or residual sugar in the wine.
Step 2 – Smell
- Swirl the wine in your glass to release the aromas.
- Take a quick sniff for an initial impression.
- The, smell more deeply and slowly.
- Concentrate on what you have just smelled – you might notice flowers or fruit, an earthy scent or an oaky aroma.
Step 3 – Taste
Take a small mouthful of wine and swirl it around in the mouth.
What do you taste – fruit, oak, spice or floral?
Feel for the characteristics of the wine. Sweet wines can be detected on the tip of your tongue whereas acidic wines can make your mouth water. Wines high in tannin will have a drying effect on gums and teeth.
The more you practice, the better you will become at distinguishing the different qualities.
Step 4 – Rate
A good quality wine will have a good balance of all elements: appearance, smell and taste.
Red wines are classified by the feel and ‘weight’ in the mouth on a scale of A to E. (A = very light and E = very heavy).
White and rosé wines are classified by sweetness on a scale of 1 to 9. (1 = very dry and 9 = very sweet).
Remember – there are different wines to suit different occasions and palates. The only thing that really matters is that you enjoy the wine.