That awkward moment when the server asks if you want to taste the wine…

A sip of wine is like a sip of Dr Pepper. You have got a lot going on in that mouthful, with a lot of subtle flavours and sensations. With that, I present you with the two crucial rules of wine tasting,

  1. Whoa Nelly, slow down!

Drinking and tasting are not the same.

  1. Pay attention.

Wine tasting has three steps. Only one of these steps involves actually tasting the wine.


Tilt the glass of wine on its side against a light background. Notice the colour and if it gets lighter towards the edges. Is it clear, dark, pale, brilliant, cloudy?

Check out those legs! Actually don’t, the legs or tears that run down the side of your glass used to be thought of as a sign of a rich, high-quality wine. It really has something to do with evaporation and surface tension.

Tip: Make sure your glass is only half full. Red wine is hard to get out of your friend’s couch.

Swirl and sniff

This is fun to do with a group of friends! This step is important because a lot of what you taste come from the aromas of the wine. Swirl the glass three or four times and quickly smell the wine. What do you smell? The best part of this is that nobody can really tell you that you are wrong-unless you take a wine tour in Napa, and the sommelier says you are way off.


When you swirl, the aromas in the wine vaporize, allowing you to smell them #science.

Do this a few times. You may smell some weird scents like mold, gas, or rotten eggs. When you enjoy what you smell, take a mental note to look for these in your next wine purchase.

Sometimes, it’s just bad wine. Wine judges call these DNPIM – Do Not Put In Mouth. Which immediately makes me think of the commercial we used to see as kids with the fluffy blue creatures. Are beets a treat? And, you are welcome for having that tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Go ahead and taste it

First, take a medium-sized sip.

Don’t swallow just yet! Purse your lips, suck in some air over the wine.

(You may want to practice this in private before you are trying to impress your date.)

Swish the wine around in your mouth so you hit all your taste buds. The basic tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (a strong meaty taste).

Finally, swallow the wine. If you like it, it’s a good wine! Remember that drinking wine is personal. People perceive taste differently so don’t base all of your opinions of what’s good on your friend’s choices.

Until next time, keep fit and have fun!


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