5 Simple Things to Know About Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting is the evaluation of a wine, by way of a sensory assessment, incorporating, as we will see, four of the five senses.

The reasons to taste wine are manifold, which have morphed into the modern versions of the art of tasting vino.

Origins of Wine Tasting

The origins of wine tasting were mostly practical.  In ancient times, the vintner wine jughad a difficult time keeping the wine from spoiling, as it was stored in open containers.  The use of wine bottles did not begin until after the 14th century.  Because the containers were open, the air would cause oxidation, which is the doom of wine storage.  The vintner would have to keep tasting the wine, to know when it was good, or if the wine had spoiled.  The result was more often than not, a horrible tasting brew.


Never fear, it did not go to waste!  Even though it tasted bad, the wine maintained intoxicating effects. The people did not yet fully understand the fermentation process. This was a pleasurable state, believed to have been a gift from the divine.

Enter the religious connection to the consumption of wine.  Getting a buzz on was considered a way to commune with the gods.  From this point of view, it did not matter that it tasted awful!

In these times, water was usually unsafe to drink.  By adding wine, the alcohol managed to kill off the bacteria.  Also, it turns out that the wine was bursting with additives, and provided the drinker with valuable added nutrients.

Today we have modern professional wine tasters, or sommeliers.  These individuals use highly specialized terminology, that is ever evolving.

Types of Wine Tasting

There are professional wine tasters, who are often referred to as a sommelier.

And, there are also the group wine tasters who take a more informal approach to the art of drinking wine.  This is the category that I fit into, which I would call recreational.  We will use much of the same terminology, but we tend to be less analytical, and create a more social and entertaining atmosphere.

There are four stages to Wine Tasting.  These are:


“In the glass”, the aroma of the wine

“In the mouth” sensations

“Finish, which is the aftertaste.

Types of Wine Tastings

Vertical Tasting Event: this is when different vintages of the same vino type from the same winery are tasted.  The purpose in this type of  tasting is to focus on the differences between various vintages.

Horizontal Tasting Event:  In this instance the wine is all the same vintage, but they are from differing wineries.

Tasting Fights:  this is a selection of wines, ranging between three and eight glasses.  However, in tasting flights, the number of glasses can be as high as fifty.  These are done with the objective of sampling and comparison.  Often when such a large amount of product is tasted, the participants are offered a spit bucket or spittoon.  This way they can get a sense of the drink without getting drunk.

Advantages to Tasting Wine8

As you may recall, I designate myself as a Recreational Wine Taster.  My intention is to enjoy the social atmosphere that accompanies tastings, and to have fun.

The other advantages I see in participating tastings, are that I get to try wines that another, more learned (I hope) person has selected.  I get to try the vino in a small amount, and decide if it is the one that I would buy.  The tastings that I have attended have resulted in my finding out I actually liked a wine that I never would have purchased.  And on the other side, I have tasted some wines that were nasty, and I am glad I did not waste any money on them.

Another development that I have experienced is what is sometimes called “developing your palate”.  When I started going to tastings, my intention was to enjoy a night out of socializing.  I told everyone that I didn’t really like wine that much, and that I stick to the whites.  To take it one step further, I would even say I mostly drank sweet white wine, like a Moscato.  But, as I attended more tastings I became fascinated with the art of drinking wine.  I started to like different whites, and I even learned how to drink most reds!  Don’t get me wrong, I still tend to favour a chilled white wine.  But, as I journey through the joys of discovering flavours, am developing my palate!

Techniques of Tasting Wine

I am going to relay to you the way I was taught to sample wine.  I do not profess my method to be the only correct technique. I was taught by a sommelier, and it serves the purpose.  If you have any tips or question, please feel free to comment below.  Cheers!

When I get my glass containing the featured product, the first thing I do is check the appearance.   I pick up the glass by the stem, to avoid transferring heat from my hand to the glass.  The goal is to look at the colour and clarity of the wine.


The next step is to smell the wine.  I will be smelling the wine twice. sniff wine tasting When I smell the wine, I put my nose all the way into the wine glass.  At my first wine  event, I felt self-conscious about this maneuver.  But, now I don’t give it a second thought!



After the first sniff, then I do the proverbial Swirl! Ahh… the art of swirling the wine!. There is emphasis on this, and in fact it is important. By swirling the glass, you will be adding oxygen to the wine, which can alter the aromas and help the open up.

There are many ways to swirl the wine glass, because of my disability, my preference is to place the base of the base on a flat surface, and slide it in a circular motion, at rate that no wine escapes the wine glass.



Now I would smell it again.  The purpose of this second sniff is to make you aware of the change in the aroma, once the oxygen has come in contact with the wine.  This ultimately also has an effect on the taste of the wine.

Finally, I would take a sip of the wine, and roll it around in my mouth, followed by a swallow. Some people like to incorporate air into their mouth, while the wine is in their mouth (slurping). I had never been a fan of this step, so I just don’t do it.

SipLastly, I wait about a minute to assess the aftertaste.  Often, the finish does not match the initial taste, and can change your assessment of the wine.


Once I have had my sip, I am able to decide if this is a wine I like.  Then I can finish the glass, and go on to the next one.

A Wine Tasting Job?

Did you know that people actually create a career out of tasting wine?  At Work.Chron.Com you can get the low down on they ways to turn this hobby into a job.

There is always another glass of wine!

wine glasses


If you have any questions of comments, I welcome them below.Judy




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  1. Susie

    June 8, 2017 at 11:09 am

    It’s funny, my husband and I were just talking about a wine tasting party we attended a few years back. We had no idea what we were doing and felt ridiculous because everyone seemed to be so serious and knowledgeable. Now that I’ve started branching out from my usual wines, I can make much more sense of it all. Thanks for the post.

    1. Judith

      June 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you for the comment. It is my wish that anyone interested in wine, should be comfortable. I fumbled around in the beginning (I still do!), until I gained enough knowledge to hold my own. I spent much of my time listening.

  2. Linda Watson

    June 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I always wondered why the swirl! Now I know. I love to go to wine tastings but quite frankly, I never know what I’m doing. But I do know what I like and that’s why I go. No need to spend money on something you wouldn’t like to drink. Thanks for the interesting background and information. Will be referring back.

    1. Judith

      June 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you for the comment. I could not agree more, buy what you like, drink what you like, regardless of what others say!

  3. Mary

    August 8, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    I don’t drink wine much so I’d have to “develop my palate” as well. Your post gave me a quick lesson on how to taste wine so I can find my favorite. I’ve always wondered what wine tasters are doing when they sniff their glasses!

    1. Judith

      August 8, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      Thank you for the comment. Yes, a wine tasting can look peculiar if you do not know what they are doing!

  4. Christian

    August 9, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Thanks Judith for your eye-opener article about wine tasting! I learned an insight about the in and outs of it.

    1. Judith

      August 9, 2017 at 7:13 am

      Thank you for the comment. The art of wine tasting can be interesting.

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