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Things to know when going to your first wine tasting

Updated on January 7, 2013

This article will give you insight into the steps of tasting wine. Even better than reading about it would be to read about it with a glass of wine in your hand. My hope is that you get to enjoy a nice wine while learning the following basic 5 steps: color, swirl, smell, taste and savor.

"One not only drinks wine, one smells it, observes it, sips it, and - one talks about it." King Edward VII



The best way to see the color of a wine is to put the glass of wine in front of a white background. You can use a white napkin or linen cloth for this. There is a lot more to the color then white or red as their are many variations in between. The lighter the wine the younger it is and therfore the older the wine the darker. Colors of white wines may be described as pale yellow-green, straw yellow, yellow gold, gold, old gold, or brown. Colors of red wines may be described as purple, ruby, red, brick red, red-brown, or brown.


Swirling the wine is done to let oxygen get to the wine. The combination of oxygen and the swirling which releases the esters (formed by reaction between an acid and an alcohol with the elimination of water), ethers (a colorless volatile highly inflammable liquid having an aromatic order and sweet burning taste), and aldehydes gives you a better smell.


This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of wine tasting! Did you know that the average person can smell over 2,000 different scents? And wine has 200 of its own scents. After swirling then you smell the wine. Not just once but a few times. Each time you smell you will get more information about the different scents. So...what does the wine smell like? This has always been a difficult question to answer. How do you describe the smell? What type of "nose" does it have? The "nose" is a word that wine taster's use to describe the aroma of the wine. Words that are used to ''describe" wine might be full, heavy or big, bitter, grapey, metallic, woody, nutty, etc.


The key to tasting wine is to let it glide over your tastebuds slowly. Many people just take a drink and swallow the wine but in doing this the wine skips over your tastebuds and you don't get the full effect. Your tongue has tastebuds on the sides, underneath, on the tip and all the way to the back. Each section of your palate taste different flavors. Those flavors include bitter, sweet, sour & salt and your tongue will pick up all of the different tastes in the wine if you make sure the wine rolls slowly around your tongue.

What parts of your tongue tastes what? The tip of your tongue will taste the sweetness of the wine if there is any, so you will taste that right away. The sides of your tongue will pick up any acidity (mostly white wines and light reds have high acidity) and the back of your tongue will taste any bitterness to the wine. Have you ever heard of the word tannins when drinking wine? Tannins exist mostly in red wines and create a tactile sensation on your tongue.


When you savor the wine sit back and think about the qualities of the wine you just tasted. How did you feel about the aftertaste of the wine? Did the taste linger for a long time? A quality wine usually leaves a long pleasing aftertaste. Take everything in and ask yourself if you enjoyed the experience. If you did, what did you enjoy about it? If not, why? Only you can answer these questions for yourself and there are no right or wrong answers to your questions. A good wine is one that YOU enjoy!

An Interesting Way to Learn about Wine

I know the basics of wine tasting and I know the different types of grapes, what grows in what region, and so on. I learned about how to store wine and when to get rid of wine. Sometimes aging isn't all it is cracked up to be especially if stored incorrectly. One could learn all this by reading up on it over time or you could learn more quickly! How can you do this? Hit the ground running by doing in-home wine tastings as a home party business! Yes, this does exist. How fun - make money while you learn about wine. These companies provide you with a ton of information on each wine that they sell. You will become a wine connoisseur in no time. There are two companies that I know of that have built a business doing in-home wine tasting parties, and I use to be a consultant for one of the companies so I know first hand that it is so much fun. Check out the sites for yourself:



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    • Keeley Shea profile imageAUTHOR

      Keeley Shea 

      5 years ago from Norwich, CT

      I just love wine so much! I use to do in home wine tasting parties and it was so much fun. Not much money to be made but I got a GREAT education on wine! Thanks for the feedback Kasman!

    • Kasman profile image


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      I tell you what actually got me into wine tasting was watching a movie called sideways several years ago, it's all about the subject. But I can't watch that movie anymore unless its censored.....too much trash. But I love how you mentioned the 200 different smells of wine that there are. I love learning new things so I appreciate the info. Voting this up. Great job on the hub keeley.

    • Keeley Shea profile imageAUTHOR

      Keeley Shea 

      6 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Thank you Giselle for your comment! Wine tastings are so much fun and don't have to be intimidating! :)

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      6 years ago

      A very helpful guide for those going to a wine tasting.

    • Keeley Shea profile imageAUTHOR

      Keeley Shea 

      6 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Lol! I only go to wine tastings that the "upper crust" don't go to. Or at least I try to find one that has the "lower crust" attending! Thanks for commenting!

    • thom w conroy profile image

      thom w conroy 

      6 years ago

      Great information to know - it will come in handy when I hi the lottery and begin to socialize with the "upper crust" lol.

    • iZeko profile image


      7 years ago

      Very good tips! I didn’t know wine has so many different scents. 200, wow!!

    • Keeley Shea profile imageAUTHOR

      Keeley Shea 

      7 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Thank you for reading my hub and commenting. My wine tastes have changed over the years but I definitely have my favorites and I love to try new wines!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      very well written and informative! I like moscato myself but I didnt really like any wine at all until a year or so ago! I know a lot more now after reading your hub!

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Keeley Shea,

      I belong to a wune tasting guild and this hub is very informative.



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