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3 Best Tips For Learning How To Taste Wine

Inside: My best tips for learning how to taste wine. 

Happy National Wine MONTH! A night of wine tasting is always fun, something about the mix of tasting good wine, learning about it all and sharing an experience with friends makes for a great night.

No need to live by a vineyard or take a trip to Napa to get to enjoy tasting wines with your friends. Instead, you can create a meal, invite friends over and after reading this post you’ll be confident to guide your party through a simple tasting.

how to taste wineI had the chance to chat with Jonelle Swiger, a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide, on the phone recently and learned more in our 45-minute conversation than I’d ever learned at a vineyard tasting. It made me immediately call all my friends over to plan a tasting.

Tips For How To Taste Wine

Here are 3 tips for how to taste a wine that I learned & the best ways to make your glass of wine count.

Learning how to taste wine

Smell it First.

As I’m sure you know smell plays the most important role in tasting anything. Especially wine. Want to try this out for yourself or with friends today – take a skittle and eat it while plugging your nose. Don’t cheat, no smelling. You can’t actually taste the skittle while your nose is plugged, crazy I know! Now unplug your nose and breath in deep and all of a sudden there’s the skittle taste! When Jonelle explained this to me I was skeptical, so I had to try it out the next day and it really worked. Smell is so important!

Since tasting wine is so important, be sure to really stick your nose into the cup and breath in deep with your mouth open. This will allow for the most complex flavor to be inhaled and give your sipping the right taste.

Swirl & Look

I would often see wine lovers swirling their glasses and never knew exactly why. But I learned in my conversation that this is actually a really important piece of understanding the wine and it is true even for white wine. I don’t think I’d ever swirled a white before. Firstly, it can tell you how and where it was barreled – which I never knew! If you swirl the glass up against a white cloth or paper you will note hints of gold (meaning the wine was casked in oak) or hints of grey (meaning it rested in metal barrels).

Swirling will also show you the legs of the wine. The legs are the portion that stays up on your glass as the swirling settles. The longer and thicker the legs the higher the alcohol content is – which is why you’ll see a whiskey stay coated on the side for hours, while that flavored wine cooler has barely a leg at all.

Looking for great tasting glasses? Here are my favorite ones.

Wine tasting partyNow Time to Taste

I learned a ton about pairing when we chatted about the tasting section. If you want to host your own wine tasting, you can keep it easy with simple plates of fruit, meats and cheese. One cool thing about the Traveling Vineyard wines is that they have a scannable bar code on the back of each bottle that will tell you exactly what foods pair best with this bottle. And it’s not always what you would think.

For instance, I learned that a sweet red when paired with either grapes or lemons actually tastes better with the lemons! Who would have thought???

The acid brings out the sweetness while the grape overwhelms it to the point that the wine has very little taste. At the tasting, they do a few pairing experiments like this before everyone jumps in to enjoy the meal.

Host Your Own Wine Tasting

Hosting a Wine Tasting is a great way to learn as a group, instead of by yourself. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on the best way to host a wine tasting.

Can’t get enough fun with wine, check out some of these fun things we’ve done over the years:

(Photography for this post ©Ellie Baygulov).


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  1. I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.

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