Do you find wine tasting intimidating? You’re not alone. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to explore – and enjoy – the fruits of the vine. Where do you start? Open a bottle of your favorite Oregon wine (we recommend a Rainstorm pinot noir) and practice these pro tips.
Step 1: Observe the Wine
Take time to look at the wine, observing its coloring and opacity. Red wines with more intense colors tend to be bolder in flavor, for example, while white wine color variations can indicate if a wine is more fruity or savory. Taking note will give you clues about what you can expect with future pours, and help you hone in on particular flavors and attributes.
Step 2: Smell the Wine
This makes tasting and identifying flavors easier. Swirl the wine, being careful not to slosh it out (which would be borderline blasphemous)! Swirling aerates the wine and brings out wonderful aromas. After swirling the wine, stick your nose in the glass and take a big whiff. Try to pick out individual aromas of fruit or spice.
Step 3: Taste the Wine
The moment you’ve been waiting for! Start with a mouthwash-sized sip, but don’t swallow it right away. Swish it all around your mouth, being sure to coat your entire tongue. Hold it in there for a few seconds to really get a handle on the flavors, and make a mental note of anything remarkable you detect.
Step 4: Spit or Swallow the Wine
Novice wine tasters may be appalled at the idea of anyone spitting out perfectly good wine, but there’s a method to the madness. You can’t properly taste wine when you’re tipsy. If you’re doing several tastings, it can impair your ability to truly judge the samples.
Now, swallowing wine is also acceptable, especially if you want to really experience a certain wine. When you swallow, the wine coats the back of your palate, bringing forth different flavors and aromas. If you’re considering purchasing a particular bottle, this is a good way to know what it will taste like when you pour a full glass.
Step 5: Ponder…
Contemplate all you’ve learned. Take another sniff if you need to, or another sip if there’s any left. Talk to your friends or others around you and get their take on it, too.
Learning how to taste wine like a pro takes time – and practice! Practice sounds great to us. Here’s your homework: pick up a bottle of Rainstorm pinot noir, and put your tasting skills to the test!