Swirl, Smell, Sip, Repeat: How to Wine Like a Pro

We’ve all faked our way through a wine tasting or two. Sniffed the vino without really knowing what to look for. Swirled the liquid around because everyone else was doing it. But no more. Here’s how to enjoy your wine like a pro. (Or, at least, go through the motions more convincingly.)

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Grab a bottle (bonus points if it’s a library wine). Pour it into the right kind of glass. Then let the process begin.

See: Take a good look at what you’re about to drink. Tilt the glass (preferably against a white background) and note the color. If it’s red, is it maroon, purple, ruby, or brick? Is your white wine clear, yellow, light green, or amber? Next, check out the opacity. Is the wine translucent, dull, brilliant, or is there sediment? All of these things can tip you off to the age of the wine and what you may soon be tasting.

Swirl: Hold the glass by the base or stem and flick your wrist to set the wine in motion. The swirl can help you evaluate the wine’s viscosity – if it has “legs” that trail down the glass as it settles. The longer the legs take to travel, the more full-bodied the wine. The swirl also exposes a larger surface area of the wine to air, intensifying its aromas.

Smell: Hold the glass a few inches from your nose for the initial sniff. Then, really go for it. Stick your nose in the glass and inhale. You might find fruit, flower, herb, and spice aromas, or even wine-barrel scents like toast, smoke, or espresso. There’s a huge spectrum of possibilities, so you won’t find them all – but calling out what you’re sensing can be fun and interactive.

Sip: Start with just a little taste and let the wine roll around your mouth and palate. Try sucking in some air (avoid an obvious slurp and the accompanying stares, if possible) to continue aerating the vino and releasing its flavors. You should taste what you smelled, while also getting a better feel for the wine’s balance and complexity.

Swallow: The sensation you get from swallowing your wine is known as the finish. Different from the initial taste, the finish reveals the dominant flavors and how long the wine stays on your palate. Typically, the longer the finish, the better the wine. Cheers.

Our Silverado Vineyards Boutique opens Wednesday, August 21, at 11AM ET.

By Chrissy Makkas, Staff Writer

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August 21, 2013