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Learn How To Taste Wine The Right Way And Have Fun Doing It

Learn How To Taste Wine The Right Way And Have Fun Doing It

Wine tasting… Do it often and do it right, every time.

Learn how to taste wine the right way, and more importantly have fun doing it! Isn’t the key for everything in life? It is just much easier when we stop trying so hard, and focus on having fun. I know, easier said than done. Here are some tidbits that should help you relax on your next wine trip.

Holding Wine Glass At Gainey

Let’s talk wine tasting for a bit, or as my son Noah calls it “Bougie Bar Hopping”… I’ve been going to wine tasting events for the past 20 years and I must admit, at first I really had no clue about what I was supposed to look for. Wineries typically serve 5 to 6 wines, and that’s called a flight. They serve whites, reds, sometimes a rosé and/or a fortified wine, each made from a different variety of grape. All the wine tasted good and after 2 or 3 pours (2 ounces each), I’d be darned if I knew what I was drinking. Once the tasting was over, which is usually 5 to 6 different wines, I would have go back and taste the first 2 again… Because I simply forgot what they tasted like. Besides, at that point it became very hard to focus and stay on task, if you know what I mean.

Learn how to taste wine

Aside from learning how to taste wine the right way, I also came up with my own techniques to help me remember what I was drinking. I would always bring a pen and a pad to write on, and every sip of wine I took would be methodically described on a piece of paper. Now I know what you’re going to say… Where the fun in that?! And you’re right. I looked like a wine critic scouting new wineries and prepping for his next write-up. The thing is I only did this a few times, until I got to a point where I didn’t have to anymore. And it’s only then that I was able to really enjoy myself. I stopped using my brain and allowed myself to focus on the way I felt after every sip.

The other thing is WATER! Yes, make sure to hydrate and drink some water in between each wine. It’ll help you reset your taste buds and clear your palate of any lingering tannins. If you don’t have water on the table, make sure to ask for some. Also use the water to rinse your glass between each pours, especially going from whites to reds.

Charcuterie Board With Wine TastingHave something to eat with your tasting. Order a board of charcuterie and cheese, with some almonds and various dried fruits. Most wineries offer food that will pair well with the wine. Just don’t overdo it. This isn’t lunch or dinner.

And finally for those who can’t decide what to order, you don’t have to. The people from the winery will take care of that for you. They’ll serve you the wine, in a specific order. They will generally have you start with the whites and end with the more full-bodied reds. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and sip away!

So what else should you do to taste wine the right way?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the 5 S’s: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip & Savor.


Begin by looking at the wine in the glass. Hold it up against a white surface, such as a sheet or a piece of paper. A white wine should be clear, and it will range from almost white to gold. Rosé wines can vary greatly in their density. Red wines are purple to red-brown. The deeper the color, the more full-bodied the wine. And if you see legs slowly trickling down the side of the glass, you can guess that the wine is higher in alcohol.


A wine’s aroma is very telling of its taste and character. In order to get the most out of the wine’s smell, or bouquet as the French call it, swirl your glass around vigorously. You can hold your glass by the stem and turn it around. You can also set it on the table and draw circles while firmly holding the base of the stem. If your glass does not have a stem, you should leave immediately and go to another winery. Okay, if you don’t already know this about me, I’m not a fan of stemless wine glasses. You don’t really have to leave… But you might consider it ;-)


While the wine is still swirling around in the glass, take a deep, gentle whiff of the wine. You can start describing what you’re smelling with terms such as fruity, spicy, herbal, floral, and earthy, then be more specific, even creative. There’s absolutely no rules and no limits. I’ve heard people say things like cat pee and burnt rubber, or my all-time favorite, my grandmother’s cupboard. Let all those subtle scents take you places. Close your eyes if you have to.


Wine Tasting At GaineyAt last it’s time to taste the wines. Take a sip, then breathe a little bit of air into your mouth to release the wine’s flavors. Take 10 to 15 seconds to move the wine through your mouth; different parts of your tongue will register different details. Ask yourself how the wine tastes and feels. After you swallow (or spit), do the flavors linger?


Here are a few things to look for in the wines. In the whites, the Sauvignon Blanc is light, dry, with a strong herbal approach; the Chardonnay is full-bodied, creamy, and has an oaky taste from the barrels it is aged in; the Riesling is fruity and crisp. As for the reds, the Pinot Noir is fruity and light compared to the others, with a spicy taste; the Syrah mixes spices with dark berries, cracked peppercorns, leather, and bacon are also common; the Zinfandel is a fuller bodied and jammy wine with a higher level of alcohol content; the Merlot is more subtle and smooth; the Cabernet Sauvignon is more complicated, evoking black currant and dried herbs.



Wine Tasting Flight Of 6 WinesSo there you have it! Hopefully this will help you taste wine the right way.

On a side note, if you’re concerned about not being able to handle the amount of alcohol, it is perfectly acceptable for you to spit out the wine. I know it sounds gross but many people do it. Simply ask for a spit bucket and practice your spitting! Just don’t wear white ;) And if you prefer, you can also swallow the first sip of two and simply dump the rest of the glass into the spit bucket. I do it a lot, especially when I’m not a big fan of the wine. That a lot classier and let’s face it, less dangerous for everyone at the table.

I’ve been rambling for a while but the key takeaway here is to enjoy yourself. Allow yourself to focus on your overall appeal as opposed to what your brain is telling you. Everything else will come naturally and create a much pleasurable experience for you and your friends. If you’re having fun, you’re tasting wine the right way ;)


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  1. Karl Gunter

    ” If your glass does not have a stem, you should leave immediately and go to another winery.” hahahahahahahaha

    Well done Dr. Jouvin! An impossible topic to reduce to a sip-able size but you did it well. Kudos.
    Every item could be followed by a “yes, but…”, I’m glad you didn’t go that way.

    BTW, my wife totally agrees with you that whites should be clear (Karl says: “yes, but… natural wines…”)

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Karl. The art of wine tasting is quite deep and complex, but it doesn’t have to be. I leave the hard work of knowing all the in’s and out’s of wine to the pros, sommeliers who actually studied oenology. My advice to those who do this strictly for pleasure… “Love the wine you’re with” ;)

  2. Karl Gunter

    Laurent Jouvin, I just saw the video you posted on Wine Ponder, “Love the Wine You’re With”!!!! Wonderful!
    Although I only saw 1 Animal Wine? At 35 seconds, I did hear the world famous “sound of wine” and the World expert who advises, “yes, view, smell & taste but also listen to your wine, it will talk to you”.

    That guy sure looks like you!

    1. Steve Jacobson

      Hello Karl – I’m glad you liked LOVE THE WINE YOU’RE WITH. If you want to see wines that are a bit more animal-focused, check out the first wine video – CABERNET TONIGHT.
      There are a few more animals referenced throughout… especially during the animation montage..
      Enjoy… and Cheers…
      Steve (Laurent’s partner – and video producer/performer/etc)

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