Tasting Notes

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Wine Tasting Notes

The Art of Wine Tasting

Sequence of Wines
Whether you are holding or attending a wine tasting, you will want to taste the lighter, dryer wines first and the heavier, sweeter wines last. This way, the heavier wines won’t overwhelm your senses and distort the tastes of the lighter wines.
An example of a wine tasting order is: sparkling wine – light, younger whites – heavier, sweeter whites – rosé – light, younger reds – heavier, older reds – dessert wines.

Steps to Wine Tasting
There are four steps to tasting wine. Even though this process is called “tasting”, it’s really more of a complete evaluation using all of your senses.
1. Appearance – hue, depth, clarity and, upon swirling in the glass, the legs
2. Nose – aroma, bouquet
3. Palate – sip but not swallow – evaluate sweetness, balance of acid, tannins, alcohol; body – light, medium, full
4. Finish – lingering flavors, length

The first step is evaluating your wine’s appearance for color (both hue and depth), and clarity. Move the wine around in your glass by tilting it from side to side. Hold it up to the light or in front of a white background.

In your white wines notice the shades of gold and yellow presented. You may even see a hint of green.
In your red wines notice the variety and intensity of colors presented. Your red wines should not be at all brown or flat in appearance.
White wines begin pale and tend to darken with age. Red wines begin a deep, bright shade of red or purple and brown as they age.

When judging the appearance of your wine you may notice its “legs”, the oily streams of liquid that run down the inside of your glass. Legs are not an indication of wine quality, rather the presence of higher alcohol content.

The second step is evaluating your wine’s nose, aroma, and bouquet. Swirl the wine gently in your glass to open it up to more surface air. This will release more of its aromas. Take a few moments to let it breathe.
The way in which your olfactory senses perceive the wine will greatly influence how your taste buds react to it. Dip your nose into the glass and inhale deeply.

Some aromas you may detect are fruit, flower, spice, earth, or wood; but don’t limit yourself. There are dozens of adjectives you can use to describe an aroma. Allow yourself to be creative and make a note of your initial impressions. Remember, no observation is incorrect.

The third step is evaluating your wine’s taste or palate. Sip a small amount of your wine, but do not swallow it yet. Let it roll around inside your mouth for a few moments so you can detect its flavors.

Experienced wine tasters will introduce air into their mouths to bring out still more aromas and flavors. You can do this by tipping your head slightly forward and down, pursing your lips as if to whistle, then breathing in through your mouth while breathing out through your nose.

When tasting your wine you are looking for a balance between acid, alcohol, and tannin. You want these elements to be in harmony, without one taste overpowering another.
Sweetness is, by definition, a wine’s level of residual sugar. However, the perceived sweetness of a wine is largely controlled by the amounts of acid, alcohol and tannins present.

Too much acid will make your wine taste sharp or tart. Too little acid will make it taste flat and unrefreshing.
Too much alcohol will make it taste overly sweet, and hot and biting as it’s swallowed.
Too many tannins will make your wine astringent and will make your mouth pucker. Tannins give wine its body and will soften as a wine ages and oxidizes when exposed to more air.

Lastly, you’ll want to note the body of your wine, or how it feels in your mouth. Wines will be light-, medium-, or full-bodied.

The final step in tasting is evaluating your wine’s finish, the sensation left in your mouth after swallowing. The longer the flavors linger on your palate, the longer the finish.

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