How to Taste Wine

Wine tasting is sensory experience and one to enjoy at that! When you pay attention to the wine in your glass from start to finish, you’ll uncover the nuances in aroma and flavor that may not have previously revealed themselves. Tasting also gives experience and memory to associate with different grapes and styles of wines. So think of tasting as a way to hone your palate, build your library of taste memories, and best of all, as a practice of savoring the wine you are drinking.

The 4 S’s

The 4 S’s are simple way to approach wine tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, and Sip.


the color and clarity of the wine in your glass. Is the color dark and opaque and bright and clear? These factors may be connected to flavors, mouthfeel, and weight of the wine you are about to taste.


the wine in the glass to release the aromas in the wine. If you find yourself splashing while swirling, place your glass on the table or bar in front of you and swirl on the flat surface for more stability. As you swirl, you will notice that distinct aromas waft up from the glass.


the wine by bringing the glass to your nose. Don’t be afraid to put your nose right in the glass and inhale. A big part of taste is smell and your nose can pick out thousands of different scents. Each grape has some characteristic aromas that you may come to pick out as you practice the 4 S’s.


the wine and hold it in your mouth. Swirl it around to coat your palate and gently draw air through your teeth to direct aromas to the nasal passages. Think about what you are experiencing. Is the wine tart or sweet? Does your mouth feel dry from the tannins? Do you taste any strong fruit or earth flavors?

As you practice the 4 S’s, share what you are seeing, smelling and tasting with your friends. Each person may be able to pick out different characteristics and sharing will help you hone in on flavors that you may not be focused on.