This is not a race to see who knocks one back faster. It is like that moment with someone special. You don’t ever want it to end.

How Does it Look?

Take a moment to check out how the wine looks in the glass before drinking.

No it’s not going to make it taste better, smartass. But it will tell you something about it before you put that bad boy up to your lips and take the first sip.

Tilt the wine glass away from you. You’re looking at the color from the edge of the wine to the middle of the glass.

The appearance of a red wine isn’t just red. You might see purple, red, and even brown. If it’s a white wine you’ll see pale yellow, light green, gold, and even amber. Do you notice if it is clear or cloudy? Older wines are going to have a bit of discoloration at the edges. Give your glass a swirl. Do you see sediment at the bottom of the glass? Does the wine cling to the side of the glass? That’s legs.

How Does it Smell?

Now we’ve all seen the wine snop put his nose up into the glass and inhale. What’s that about?

Smelling it is going to tell us what the wine is going to taste like. Swirl your glass for a few seconds before taking a whiff. What do you smell? Do you get a smell of berries, like strawberries, cherry? What about floral (flowers), vanilla, citrus and do you get a bit of oak or wood? Yes, this means you have to pay attention. But it’s all there in a good wine. Two buck chuck – not so much.

Remember your nose can identify many flavor notes, while the tongue only recognizes four: sweet, salty, acid, and bitter. And you aren’t going to taste salt in a wine.

Remember what has becomes my basic rule of thumb – If it smells like it tastes and lingers as it goes down, chances are good, the wine you’re drinking is good.

Now How Does it Taste?

Finally, you get to drink it. Remember this stuff comes from grapes. It’s a food. So taste is important. You’re not doing this just for the buzz.

Get a taste and let it roll around your mouth. What is your first impression? Is it light or heavy? Crisp or smooth? Sweet or dry? Get a lot of fruit or spice?

If you’re drinking red, you’re going to notice the fruit right off. Berries like I said before. Maybe plum or fig. Spice notes are pepper, clove, cinnamon, and maybe a bit of woody or smoky notes. If you’re drinking a white wine, you may taste apple, citrus or even tropical fruit or do you get a more floral or earthy notes? With a Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll get straw, grassy, and citrus notes big time.

You heard the wine snob talk about the Finish. I always considered that the impression you have of the wine after you swallowed. Was it like a drink of water? That’s light-bodied. Did it linger, like fresh squeezed fruit juice? That’s medium-bodied. Or did the weight and sensation stay in your mouth? Was it a creamy sensation like a cream or burrata? Bottom line – did the taste stay with you or did it fade like a bad movie?

This ought to make sense but you probably never applied it to wine. Your senses heighten as you get hungry.

Other Things to Consider.

Tannins are another thing you’ll get in red wine. It’s like that taste you get drinking a cup of tea that’s been sitting in the pot too long. It’s an astringent, drying sense.

Alcohol – Think about whether you felt the wine was full or light bodied. That is going to correspond to how much alcohol is in that glass. The bigger the wine, the more the alcohol. A Zinfandel will have a lot more alcohol than your Sauvignon Blanc.

If you read this and use it does it mean you’re going to pass the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Exam in viticulture and wine production? You’re kidding, right.

This is just so you won’t embarrass yourself at the next wine tasting.

Good drinking all.