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Wine Tastings: How To Taste Wine, Wine Tasting Guide, Wine Tasting Notes

The Wine Buyer wants you to know all about wine tasting. Below, we describe the five basic steps in tasting wine. But before we get there, we want to offer you some help in describing the aromas and tastes of wine. One of the most difficult things to do is to put a name on something you smell or taste in wine and sometimes it can help just to have a list of these components to help jog your nose or palette into identifying a certain feature. For this purpose, we encourage you to take a look at our aroma and taste wheels. We have put them on separate pages because the graphics are large and will take a little while to load, depending on your connection. So, your best bet is to click the links below, let them load, and then print them out. You can bring them to your next wine tasting party or just use them at home to help you describe what you are smelling and tasting.

Aroma and Taste Wheels

Red Wine Aroma Wheel
White Wine Aroma Wheel

Five Basic Steps

Color tells you a lot about the wine. For instance, white wines tend to deepen in color from yellow to golden as they get older. Red wines on the other hand, tend to change from red to brick with age.

Why do we swirl the wine? To allow oxygen to get into the wine. In other words, swirling aerates the wine and releases more aromas or bouquet.

This is the most important part of wine tasting. You can only perceive four tastes-sweet, sour, bitter, and salt-but you can smell over 1,000 different scents. Pinpointing the nose of the wine helps you to identify certain characteristics found in the taste.

Tasting is something you do with your taste buds. And remember, you have taste buds all over your mouth. They're on both sides of the tongue, underneath, on the tip, and they extend to the back of your throat. Unfortunately, gulping wine bypasses many of those important taste buds. As mentioned above, you can only perceive four tastes: sweet, sour, bitter,and salt. Sweetness only occurs in wines that have some residual sugar left over after fermentation. Sour (sometimes called "tart") indicates the acidity in wine. Bitter is sensed in the back of the mouth and indicates firm tannins. Salt is an element that rarely occurs in the taste of wine.

After you've had a chance to taste the wine, sit back for a few moments and savor it.


  1. Light, medium, or full-bodied?
  2. For a white wine: How was the acidity; very little, just right or too much?
  3. For a red wine: Is the tannin in the wine too strong or astringent? Is it pleasing? Is it missing?
  4. Are all the taste components balanced and in harmony?
  5. How long did the flavors last (finish)?