Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you learn how to Taste Wine and Develop your Palate along the way

You can evaluate wine in three simple steps:

  • Look at the color
  • Smell the aromas
  • Taste the wine

LOOK

You can learn a lot about the wine from the color. In red wines, if there are any purple hues in the wine, generally, this means the wine is young. If there are more brick red or orange hues in the spectrum, the wine may be older.

In white wines, a more golden yellow color rather than pale light yellow could mean the wine is older, the wine has been in oak, or the wine is sweeter.

If the white or red wine is clear and bright in color, rather than opaque and cloudy, this is a good sign that the wine is sound and clean. 

SMELL

Next, swirl the wine in your glass, so the aromatic compounds are released, then slightly lower your nose towards the rim of the glass to take in the aroma. A few short puffs of air in through the nose will help you assess the smell of the wine best.

The initial aromas can be an excellent introduction to the wine. Try to identify different fruit aromas as well as any spices, earthy notes, or other aromas that come to mind. As a good rule of thumb, try to recognize at least three different aromas to describe a wine.

TASTE

The first sip of wine should be generous, one that can coat the inside of your mouth, so all of your taste buds get a sample. There will be tastes on the tongue and palate, such as sweet or bitter. You may also identify more fruit aromas, oak, or earth flavors once the wine is inside your mouth. Feel free to assess the texture of the wine. It may feel light or heavy, soft or rough, dry, or luscious and has an impact on your overall impression of the wine.

MAKE YOUR OWN IMPRESSIONS

After you have worked through these three steps, you can give your overall impression of the wine. Simply observing what you are seeing, smelling, and tasting can help you decide how you feel about the color as well as your thought on aromas and flavors. Do they leave a positive impression? Or a negative one? Congratulations, as this is the beginning to understanding wine.

The best way to develop your palate is to taste more wine. Practice makes perfect. As you become more familiar with different wines, it becomes easier to identify certain aromas, tastes, and textures in wine typical of each varietal and region. Above all, enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wine Tasting

There will be a series of wines poured for you to try. Some winery hosts will give their impressions and background story of each. Others let you enjoy the wines and allow you to come to your conclusions. A typical wine tasting can vary significantly depending on how much both you and your host decide to engage. 

A wine tasting will generally last one to two hours. The number of guests present and how many wines you taste will vary the length considerably.

Each winery will decide their payment price, but generally, depending on how many wines you taste between $5.00-$25.00. There will be exceptions when tasting reserve wines or when additional services such as food pairings are added to your experience.

Many like to dress up when visiting a winery, as it can be a classy affair. It is not required, but wearing your favorite hoodie and sweatpants might be reserved for another day. Do keep in mind though that wine cellars can be very chilly, and vineyards can be rugged, so if you plan on taking a tour, bring a light jacket and wear appropriate shoes.

There is nothing required for a wine tasting except age identification in certain countries. A positive attitude and questions for the winery staff are always appreciated.