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How to do Wine TastingBook Now

So, how do you taste and evaluate a glass of wine? Follow our wine tasting tips below, but before you start, make sure you're in the right tasting environment.

Tasting Conditions

Vinery First, make note of the circumstances surrounding your wine tasting experience that may affect your impressions of the wine: A noisy or crowded room makes concentration difficult. Cooking smells, perfume and even pet odor can destroy your ability to get a clear sense of a wine's aromas. A glass that is too small, the wrong shape, or smells of detergent or dust, can also affect the wine's flavor.

The temperature of the wine will also have an impact on your impressions, as will the age of the wine and any residual flavors from whatever else you have been eating or drinking. You want to neutralize the tasting conditions as much as possible, so the wine has a fair chance to stand on its own. If a wine is served too cold, warm it with your hands by cupping the bowl. If a glass seems musty, give it a quick rinse with wine, not water, swirling it around to cover all the sides of the bowl. Finally, if there are strong aromas nearby (especially perfume) walk as far away from them as you can and try to find some neutral air.

Evaluating by Sight

Once your tasting conditions are as close to neutral as possible, your next step is to examine the wine. The glass should be about one-third full and you should loosely follow the following steps to completely evaluate the wine visually.

Straight View - First, look straight down into the glass, then hold the glass to the light, and finally, give it a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. This will allow you to see the wine's complete color range, not just the dark center.

Looking down, you get a sense of the depth of color, which gives a clue to the density and saturation of the wine. Viewing the wine through the side of the glass held in light shows you how clear it is.

Tilting view - Tilting the glass so the wine thins out toward the rim will provide clues to the wine's age and weight. If the color looks quite pale and watery near its edge, it suggests a rather thin, possibly insipid wine. If the color looks tawny or brown (for a white wine) or orange or rusty brick (for a red wine) it is either an older wine or a wine that has been oxidized and may be past its prime.

Swirl - Finally, give the glass a good swirl. You can swirl it most easily by keeping it firmly on a flat surface; open air "freestyle" swirling is not recommended for beginners.

Notice if the wine forms "legs" or "tears" that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have good legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not.

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