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Wine tasting is ultimately based on personal taste and the same wine can taste very different to different people. We have put together a few guidelines to help you when you taste a wine:


Pour a glass of the wine to be tasted, taking care not to pour out any sediment that may be in the bottle. Under comfortable lighting, look at the wine from various angles: in many red wines, the edge will be a lighter color than the rest of the wine, particularly if the wine has had time to age. Older white wines will often be darker than young white wines.


The color of a wine should always be judged against a white background. A napkin or piece of blank paper is ideal.


Swirl the glass gently for at least 5 seconds, if not longer. This releases the aromas into the glass. Put the glass to your nose and inhale gently, taking care not to overwhelm your senses. Some people find that taking multiple short sniffs is more effective than one long inhalation – this is purely a matter of preference. Note what you smell, and do not be shy: what one perceives in a wine is entirely subjective.


Take a small sip and roll it around your mouth. Make gentle chewing movements, and suck in a small amount of air. All of this serves to aerate the wine further, and to spread the liquid throughout the mouth.


Note your impressions on the texture and weight: How strong are the tannins? Are they fine-grained and tight, or rough and rustic? Does the wine have the weight of water, milk, cream, or syrup?


At the same time, observe what flavors you taste. Do not hesitate to be honest: if a wine reminds you of wet grass, or your attic, or your dentist's box of latex gloves, then record it as such.


Once you have taken as much information from this sip as you can, either spit or swallow the wine. Pause for a moment and make a note of the aftertaste – if there is any – and any final impressions this last step has left.