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  • Writer's pictureNicola Nott

How To Taste Wine

I guess the first thing you might be interested in knowing about wine tasting is how to taste wine!

You’re not the first either, we have been engaged in the organised trade of wine since the 4th century BC in ancient Greece. And you can’t have traders without tasters. Sadly, Berkshire lacks the wonderful Aegean climate, even more reason to warm up with a nice red I’d say!

One of the best approaches I have found that’s sound and simple is the 5 S’s. these are:

See, swirl, smell, sip, and savour.

I’ll outline each one individually below:


You’re at the restaurant and the Sommelier pours out the wine you have eagerly selected. He checks with you and you just wave that it’s fine because you’re not sure what to look for. In tasting all you are really doing at this stage is checking the wine looks as it should; hold it over the white cloth and have a peek. You ordered a white wine; does it look white? Is your still wine still or does it have bubbles? Sometimes you may find it easy to see a fault straight away, does it look cloudy? This could be a sign something is wrong. If you ordered a natural wine though don’t worry, it’s fine and what you should expect.


The next stage is to get a better idea of what the liquid is like, swirling it around opens the liquid up (to ready us for the next stage) and gives us clues as to what it might be like, if the liquid is cloyed and sticking to the glass, this could indicate it is a sweet wine with high sugar content. When you see tears or legs form down the side of the glass this means the liquid has increased viscosity, so it could mean a higher alcohol content.


Now we have swirled the wine, we have opened up the liquid so the flavours can mix with the air, and we can get a sense of what’s in it. In the wine trade, we like to divide up the flavours into three distinct categories:

1. Primary flavours – These are all the fresh and fruity notes you can expect to smell. Do you get citrus or stone fruits on the nose? Plums perhaps?

2. Secondary flavours – these are mainly the flavours you get from all the human intervention flavours imparted from oak barrels and other things. They tend to impart, spices like cinnamon or vanilla, and other non-fruity flavours like leather or tobacco.

3. Tertiary flavours – the final category is flavours that come with time. If you got plums or cherries, what kind of plums were they? Young and fresh? Or was it more like a plum

pudding or cherry pie? If so, then that indicates the wine has aged. Hopefully in a pleasant way.


So you Seen it Smelled it now for the main event the sipping of it! my favourite way of doing this is to get some liquid in my mouth, lean slightly forward then suck air slowly through my mouth. This then bubbles through the liquid and helps to aerate all the lovely flavours and open them up in your mouth. Hopefully, your experience on your nose is reflected in the mouth; which flavour categories can you taste? Does anything else jump out? Maybe that plum on the nose is plum pudding in the mouth.


Finally, you’ve spat or swallowed the sample and you get to savour the final flavours of the wine.

Was it rich and did it coat your mouth? Did the flavours finish quickly, or do they lovingly linger for a long time? A richer wine which lingers longer leads you to conclude it is a quality wine.

Well there you go, I hope you found that interesting & useful. If you have any comments please drop me a line, if there is anything you’d like me to write about get in touch too. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. And should I have tickled your taste buds and you’d like me to do a tasting

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