The Three Essentials of Wine Tasting: Look, Smell, Taste

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What rules should I follow when tasting wine?

The Three Essentials of Wine Tasting: Look, Smell, Taste

When tasting wine, there are three things you should keep in mind: the look, taste and smell.

The look: you can tell a lot about a wine from its appearance. White wines range in color from green to yellow to brown. More color in a white wine usually indicates more flavor and age. Red wines can range from a pale red to a deep brown red, usually becoming lighter in color as they age.

Swirling: Swirling the wine serves many purposes, but visually it allows you to observe the body of the wine. Notice its "legs" - the streaks or tears of wine that cling to a glass as the wine settles back to the bottom. Good legs may indicate a thicker body and a higher alcohol content or sweetness level.

Rim color: you can guess the age of a red wine by observing its "rim." Tilt the glass slightly and look at the edge of the wine. A purple tint may indicate youth while orange to brown indicates maturity.

The smell: the aroma in wine is called the bouquet or nose. Take a quick sniff and think about your first impression of its scent. Then take a second deeper sniff. Try to concentrate on smell separate from taste. Do one at a time. Common aromas are wood, spices, flowers and fruit.

The taste: there are different levels of taste. There's the initial taste (or first impression), which is where the wine awakens your senses by triggering your taste buds to respond to sensations. Then there is the main taste, which is where you slosh the wine around a bit to draw in some air. Examine the body and texture of the wine. Is it light or rich? Smooth or harsh? Then there is the aftertaste, the taste that remains in your mouth after you have swallowed the wine. How long did the taste last? Was it pleasant?

   

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