Few experiences are better than opening a great bottle of wine and tasting it. Whether it’s the aromas, the colors, or the first sips, the experience is incredibly fun and rewarding.

Fortunately, anyone can become an expert at tasting wine. By following the guidelines below, you’ll be able to taste like a professional and get the most out of every swirl, smell, and sip.

Tasting Etiquette Basics

Wine tasting starts with selecting both a bottle of wine and the right glassware. Next, you need a bottle opener, an open mind, and ideally some good friends or family to enjoy the experience with. 

Set Up Your Tasting Atmosphere

Wine is delicate and easily influenced by external scents, whether good or bad. Strong odors such as cologne, perfume, candles, or incense can hamper your tasting experience. 

One of the most important steps in wine tasting is to create a fragrance-free environment. This way, you’ll be able to pick up on all your wine’s delicate aromas uninterrupted. 

Observe Your Wine’s Color

Pour a 2 or 3-ounce serving of wine into your glass. Hold the glass in front of you against a white backdrop, such as a piece of paper, and look at your wine’s color. 

Person looking at a glass of wine for a tasting.

Note your wine’s hue and intensity. Also, take note of the color by comparing it to a color chart. This will help identify the type of grape and how much tannin your wine has. 

Smell Your Wine

Before swirling your glass, take a moment to smell your wine as is. Pay attention to any fruity notes or other scents coming from your wine. 

Give Your Wine a Good Swirl and Smell Again

Hold your glass by its stem and gently swirl your wine. This gets air into your wine, releasing its complex aromas and flavors. 

Then, give your wine a second smell. What differences do you observe? Take not of any strange aromas that weren’t there before you swirled your wine. 

Take Your First Taste

After giving your wine a good swirl, it’s time to taste. Enjoy a mouthful of wine and swish it around in your mouth. 

Pay attention to how it makes the inside of your mouth feel. Pay attention to any chalkiness, sourness, or other flavors in the wind. 

Revisit Your Wine Throughout the Tasting

Continue swirling throughout your tasting to appreciate your wine’s nuances as they evolve in the glass. Keep tasting and moving your wine around your mouth. Pay attention to any changes you observe in your wine. 

Write What You Experience

Keep a notepad handy to jot down your experiences during the tasting. Record everything from aroma and flavor profiles to texture and overall impressions. 

Comparing your notes with others can be a fun activity. The differences and similarities might surprise you. 

Choose the Right Wine Glass for Your Wine

When wine tasting, make sure you use the correct wine glass for your wine. While technically any glass will work, you’ll miss out on a lot of your wine’s aromas and characteristics. 

Person pouring red wine into a glass

Red Wine

Choose glasses with wider openings and larger bowls to aerate red wines. This lets the wine’s tannins and spicy notes become mellower, letting you pick up on the wine’s more subtle notes. 

There is a variety of red wine glass styles, from Burgundy glasses to Bordeaux glasses. If you’re drinking an everyday red wine or medium-bodied red wine, then a universal red wine glass will do the job perfectly. 

White Wine

Choose glasses with a smaller bowl to maintain the floral aromas and highlight the wine’s acidity. These glasses also keep your white wine refreshingly cool. 

For aged white wines and full-bodied white wines such as oak-aged chardonnay and viognier, glasses with wider bowls work well. 

Sparkling Wine

The satisfying bubbles and delicate aromas of sparkling wines, such as champagnes or cavas, are best enjoyed in narrow glasses that preserve their bubbles. Whether you prefer flutes or tulip shapes, the choice depends on your personal taste.

Dessert Wines

Dessert wine glasses include port glasses and slender glasses that work for aromatic ice wines and Sauternes. These glasses help concentrate the aromas of the wine and preserve their freshness. 

Why Appreciating Wine Matters

Wine tasting is incredibly fun and rewarding. No matter what style of wine you drink, tasting leads to many memories and fun experiences. 

Men tasting red wine

The most important thing to keep in mind when tasting wine is to have fun and to experience as much as you can. Take notes of what you see, smell, and taste and go back for more. 

Also, don’t be afraid to break the rules. This will help you learn how to appreciate wine and why these guidelines work so well. So, grab your favorite wine glass and wine and enjoy!