How Sommeliers Taste Wine

How Sommeliers Taste Wine

"A good sommelier doesn't just know about wine," a friend of mine once said. "They know how to taste it." I hadn't thought about how much care and attention goes into tasting a glass of wine until she shared that tidbit with me — but now that I've tasted my fair share of vino, I understand why the process is so important for sommeliers: They need to be able to assess the quality of what they're drinking and make recommendations based on their findings. But you don't have to be an expert or even picky about your wine choices in order to learn this valuable skill set. In fact, as long as you're relaxed and open minded (and perhaps have had a few glasses yourself), learning how to taste like a pro can help improve your enjoyment at home or at restaurants alike.

1. Colour

Colour is an indicator of age, and it can also be used to judge the quality of a wine. For example, red wines are often aged in oak barrels and browned through exposure to air, which gives them their darker hue. White wines on the other hand are made from grapes that have been pressed before fermentation begins—they don’t need any additional treatment or aging for their colour to develop properly.

Color may be a useful tool when judging a wine's quality, but it's not always accurate: some light-coloured wines do contain some tannins (which give them bitterness), while dark-coloured ones won't necessarily have any taste at all unless they're fortified with sugar after fermentation has finished (this process isn't common).

2. Look for legs

The colour of wine is determined by the grape variety, the soil and climate. As a result, there are many different shades of red that can be found in wine—and some white wines as well. But how do you know if your glass has legs?

  • If there are no visible droplets running down its side after you've swirled it around several times (and this happens with every bottle), then you there is no alcohol content - this is a good thing for alcohol-free wine drinkers! If there are plenty of droplets on display however, then chances are good that what lies beneath those drops is alcohol!

  • When tasting different kinds of reds at once (Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon), look for differences in their flavours based on whether or not there were any added sulphites during production.

3. Sniff

To taste the wine, you'll need to lift the glass to your nose and sniff. Sniffing is important because it enables you to identify the aroma in a wine.

With each sip, take note of what's happening on your palate: how does the texture feel? Is it smooth or rough? How intense is its flavour?

The first few sips are best for identification of aromas from various components in the wine (e.g. tannins). As time goes on, focus on tasting different parts of your mouth—from back teeth through front teeth and palate—to determine which flavours are strongest at what point during swallowing!

4. Taste and savour

  • Taste and savour

Once you've smelled and swished your wine, it's time to take a sip. Don't just gulp it down—that's a rookie mistake! You have to let the wine roll around in your mouth for a while before swallowing—about 30 seconds is ideal—so that all of its flavours can hit all of your taste buds at once. When you're done tasting (and there will be more tasting later), slowly swallow the liquid until nothing remains but a nice aftertaste on your tongue. Again: don't gulp!

5. Evaluate and cleanse the palate

It's important to note that when you are tasting wine, it's best not to swallow while evaluating the wine. You want to be able to analyze the wine in its entirety, so if you accidentally swallow some of it, you'll miss out on the full experience. Instead, use a clean palate—either by using a sip of water or by chewing on something like sugar cubes—to cleanse your palate and prepare yourself for another taste.

6. Consistency is key — so practice!

You can take your tasting skills to the next level by practicing with friends, family members and partners. You can even sign up for a wine tasting class in your area, which is an excellent way to meet other people who are interested in learning about wine.

Once you've mastered the basics of how to taste wine, keep reading! There's more information on this topic coming soon.

Professional wine tasters use a systematic approach to taste and assess wines, but essentially they're just relaxing and enjoying the drink itself.

There’s a lot of mystique around wine tasting, but it’s actually a skill that anyone can learn. The goal of the sommelier is not just to taste and assess the quality of a wine, but also to enjoy drinking it. It’s important for amateurs to keep this in mind when trying new wines—tasting should be about relaxing and appreciating the drink itself rather than worrying about whether or not you are doing it correctly.


Tasting wine is a wonderful experience, and if you're new to it we hope this article has given you some helpful tips on how to get started. Remember that the best way to become a good wine taster is through practice—so get out there and try as many different wines as possible!

Note: Did you know that Zero Lush will have a booth at the "Victoria International Wine Festival" this year (2022) sure to drop by and say "hi".

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