- Old friends are best. John Selden
Learn Wine Appreciation
How to taste the wine?
Fill a quarter of the glass with wine and hold it by the stem
Holding the glass by the bulb will heat up the wine and distort the flavor. The reason for the stems is to prevent adding excess heat, so hold the glass lightly by the thin stem. Wine needs to "breathe," or rest in exposed air, after being opened to get the best flavor, so take your time examining the wine before starting to drink.
Take a small sniff of the wine right after opening
This is a good time to catch a preliminary sniff of the wine so you can compare its fragrance after swirling. This will also allow you to check for any off odors that might indicate spoiled (corked) wine or some other biological or chemical imperfection, which will smell stale or rotten. Smells to note include: A musty, wet, attic-like smell means the wine was improperly bottled and cannot be salvaged. The smell of burnt matches is a product of bottling, but it should fade after exposure to air. Nail polish or vinegar-esque smells indicate a wine that is too acidic. Brettanomyces, or "Brett," causes a yeasty smell that is natural in red wines. Too much of this yeast smell can, however, ruin the other flavors of the wine and point to a mistake in the wine-making process.
Look at the edges of the wine and note the colors
Tilting the glass can make it easier to see the way the color changes from the center to the edges. Hold the glass in front of a white background, such as a napkin, tablecloth, or sheet of paper, to make out the wine's true color. For the wine professional, this is the first clue to how old the wine may be and how well it is holding up. Look for the color of the color and clarity of the wine. Intensity, depth, and saturation of color are not necessarily consistent with quality. The wine should not be murky or cloudy in color. White wines get naturally darker with age, but should not be brown. Red wines to lose their color with time, turning brownish, and have a small amount of harmless, dark red sediment in the bottom of the bottle or glass.
Know that red wines have natural sediment at the bottom
Sediment formation, which looks like dirt at the bottom of the glass, is a naturally occurring process in which polymerization causes the precipitation of colloids of pigmentation, among other things, to fall out of solution and form small grainy sediment. Long story short: this is not a fault in the wine, it this is a natural part of wine making.
Swirl the wine in your glass
This is to increase the surface area of the wine by spreading it over the inside of the glass allowing them to escape from solution and reach your nose. It also allows some oxygen into the wine, which will help its aromas open up. Lightly twirl the stem of the glass, keeping the bottom of the glass on the table if you are worried about spilling. Viscosity is how quickly the wine slides back down the glass. More viscous wines are said to have "legs," and are likely to be more alcoholic or contain more glycerol (for sweeter, dessert wines). Outside of looking pretty, this has no relation to a wine's quality, but more "legs" may indicate a full-bodied wine.
Sniff the wine
Initially, you should hold the glass a few inches from your nose. Then let your nose dive 1/2 inch or so into the glass. What do you smell? Keep gently swirling your wine if you can't smell much -- swirling allows the evaporating alcohol to carry the aromatic molecules toward your olfactory sensors.f you don't think a wine smells good, it likely won't taste good. Great wine is enticing on the nose and gives you a hint of what is to come. Common scents include: Fruits: berries, cherries, and richer fruits for reds and citrus for whites. Floral or herb scents in whites and lighter reds, like Rhône region reds. Earthy scents, like soils, minerals, or rocks, are possible in nicer whites. Spices and unique smells like vanilla, toast, pepper, chocolate, and coffee come from the wooden barrels used to age the wine, usually oak. Older wines often have nuanced, subtle smells that are hard to place, so don't worry if you can't pick out a smell.