Wine Basics Part 2: How to Taste Wine
Now that you know the very basics of wine from Wine Basics Part 1, it's time to dive in and learn the second, and arguably most important, skill of all: how to taste wine without looking like a lush. Trust me this is harder than it seems... NOT-SO-BASIC WINE TASTING ETIQUETTE
- Pause: Take a sec to review the wine list and decide what you're in the mood for. If you're feeling non-committal or unsure, that's totally cool, just make one of these two moves: *How-to tip:
- One, ask the bartender for a taste of 1-2 wines to help you decide, but remember, we are not at Baskin Robbins, so DO NOT get 7 different 'tastes' then be like 'Nah, I'm good' and bounce.
- Or two, tell the boozy gatekeeper what you're in the mood for and ask what they would recommend.
- Sniff: Now that you've picked your poison, always smell the wine first before taking a sip. We'll get into this more later but it goes really far into making you look like you know what you're doing. And who knows, you might appreciate the aromas (scent). *How-To tip: Bring the glass close to your mouth, maybe even rest your lips on its closest edge, then tip your head and stick your whole nose inside. If you're really going for it, like I do, the other edge of the glass may touch the bridge of your nose. Then, give it a long whiff.
- Swirl: Go ahead and swirl that shiz too; mainly for fun and to impress your friends, but doing this also releases more aromas from the vino and makes for a more pleasant experience. *How-to tip: hold stem of glass in dominant hand, then move the glass counter-clockwise in slow, tight circles. You'll find a rhythm and it looks pretty too. But beware, it is E-Z to over-do this one and end up with a wine Rorschach blot on your shirt, so I repeat, start slowly.
- Sniff Again: You may think this is redundant, but trust me, after your little swirl party, you'll notice a lot more deliciousness coming out of your glass. And again, it makes you look more sophisticated and less like a lush.
- Sip: Finally, the moment we've been waiting for since happy hour started! Pretty self-explanatory, but the operative word here is sip, NOT drink, slug, pound, shoot. * How-to tip: take a sip, hold it in your mouth for a sec, roll the liquid around a bit, then swallow completely and pause. Enjoy the lingering sensation of the wine, AKA the finish, and mentally high-five yourself for being a not-so-basic bitch.
You do not need to do all of this before every single sip of wine, but do repeat this process at random intervals because the wine will change, and again, you'll up your classy game big time.
And note, the examples in this guideline refer to ordering wine at a restaurant or bar, but they also apply to tasting wine at a winery or in a guided tasting. However, if you want more specific info on the Dos and Donts of guided wine tastings or tastings at a winery, then check out this post: World Wide Wine Tasting Etiquette.