How to look like a pro when you’re tasting wine

Admit it – you choose a bottle of wine because you like the label or maybe it is on special offer this week in the supermarket?

But wouldn’t it be great to learn how to taste wines like a professional? You could ask to come and host a tasting for you, but if you want to do it yourself, here’s our easy step-by-step guide.

Pour a small amount of wine into a glass and look at it. (No sipping yet!)

Colour – examine the colour of your wine against a white background. Tip the wine, and coat the sides of the glass. Look at the tones in the centre. As a red wine ages, it loses colour and brightness, becoming more tawny. As white wine ages it gains more colour.

Smell – the nose is the most important element in wine tasting. Rotate the wine in the glass to aerate the wine and release the aromas. Sniff the wine deeply a few times. Think of all the scents you can smell, not just the first smell, or the most dominant. Red summer fruits, peaches, grapefruits with a hint of wood shavings?

Taste – ok, now it’s time to taste the wine. Your palate can only detect sweetness at the front, acids at the sides and tannins at the back. In order to activate the sense of taste fully, we have to engage the retro-nasal passage, to link the nose to the palate. To do this, take a sip of the wine and gargle across the palate, rolling the wine around the mouth.

Spit – spit the wine out and concentrate on the flavours left in your mouth. (It’s a good idea to practice by spitting water into a sink). The aftertaste should be a harmonious impression between the palate and the aromas if the wine is good.

If you want to buy a wine spittoon, take a look at although you might find it hard to let go of the wine once it’s in your mouth.

Remember, if you are going to taste a number of wines in succession, it is a good idea to spit them out as your judgement will become progressively impaired as the tasting progresses!

If you would like to explore the world of wine tasting further, take a look at for a number of interesting courses, or have a look at the video clips on for more tips on how to get the most out of wine tasting.


Have you ever been brave enough to send a bottle of wine back in a restaurant because you didn’t like it?

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Silverhairs editor

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