How To Taste Red Wine – Identifying Wine

Guide to red wine types
If you like wine (and if you don’t you’re in the wrong place) then you’d probably like to taste wine like a wine expert and get more out of every sip. Well there’s good news it’s not hard! Sommeliers use the same for steps each time they taste the four steps are

  1. See
  2. Sniff
  3. Sip
  4. Sumarise


Preparing to Taste Red Wine

To begin with you’ll require a glass with about two fluid ounces (about 60ml) of red wine, a white napkin and a sense of smell. Pick up your wine glass by the stem – glassware should be handled correctly to avoid spoiling the wine and to ensure you don’t smudge the ball of the glass obscuring your view. Tilt the glass and look at the wine against a white backdrop (such as your napkin), if the wine is purple to ruby red then the wine you are drinking is a younger wine that has recently spent time in contact with the grape skins which give wine their colour. If the wine nearest the rim of the glass is reddish-orange then you’re about to enjoy an older wine which has spent time mellowing in the bottle.

Sniffing the Wine

Before sniffing the wine you’ll want to swirl the glass allowing the wine to aerate separating the tannins and accelerating the evaporation of alcohol. The alcohol carries the wines nose into the air which is funneled by your glass to the rim where you can smell them. If you are not using a wine glass intended for red wines (which would have a deep bowl and narrower rim) then you may wish to swirl the glass while resting it on the table before holding the rim to your your nose and taking a few sharp sniffs.

Unsurprisingly red wines being made from red grapes often evoke aromas reminiscent of blueberries, cherries and plum red, if you pick up hints of vanilla, toast or wood then the wine was likely aged in French or American oak barrels.

Tasting the Wine

Ok now comes the good part you are ready to take a small sip of the wine and swish it across your tongue and around your math reaching all your taste buds. The first thing you will notice is the wines body, this will either be light, medium or full bodied. In other words does the wine have the thick heavy consistency closer to cream, full fat milk or does it run like water?

You should begin to identify the bolder more noticeable flavours at this juncture, the wine will either have a taste of red fruits such as strawberry or purple fruits like plum. Once you swallow focus on how your mouth feels if your mouth feels dry and rough the wine is highly tannic. Sweetness is a poor indication as dry wines can still be sweet.

Summarise the Wine

How long does the pleasant aftertaste of the wine last, would you call it short, long or lingering? Was it rough or Silky? A higher quality wine which has been aged should leave a wake of complex but subtle flavours where as a big bold New World will be rough and dissipate quickly. Would you like another sip or are you ready to move on to another? Your impression of the wine can give you an indication as to your preference if you favour dry wines with strong tannins then consider a Zinfindel, if you like a fruity wines perhaps a vega roja, orif you like a wine with lower tannins consider a Pinot Noir.

Tasting wine like a pro and ensuring that you get every ounce of enjoyment out of your glass means practice, not just drinking wine but taking the time to compare wines. Compare a young Merlot to an older Cabarnet Sauvignon, look for differences in colour, the older wine will likely have more subtle aromas and improve more with decanting while the younger Merlot will be bolder but little improved by aeration.

Find yourself a tasting chart and explore!

Posted in Wine Guide
2 comments on “How To Taste Red Wine – Identifying Wine
  1. Wineless says:

    My wife is going to a wine tasting party and wants to take a bottle and ask me for my thoughts, I dont drink wine so could not help her, but maybe someone here can. Please can someone recommend a brand, type, year, i need to know where to get started.

  2. Maria Polyakova says:

    It’s quite difficult to recommend a specific brand or type of wine without having an idea of your wife’s preferences. However, if you are looking for a unique wine you might want to consider a fruity Vega Roja. Alternatively, have a look at the review of our wine of the month to see if this is something your wife might like.

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