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In Good Taste

How to (Properly) Taste Wine

How to (Properly) Taste Wine


See. Swirl. Smell. Sip. Savor.

There is a proper way to taste wine. The best way to drink wine so that you discover different nuances and select according to your palate is to follow the five steps for tasting wine. These Five steps in wine tasting begin the moment the sommelier delivers the bottle leading up to the first sip. Proper wine tasting is all about connecting with wine. This is the bonus step that most people forget about when talking about how to drink wine. To make it easy to remember how to taste properly when drinking wine, follow these five steps (and our special bonus step 🎉). Let’s review.

Simple Steps To Taste Wine

See the Wine
Swirl the Wine
Smell the Wine
Taste the Wine
Savor the Wine

Step #1 – See

In this step, you are looking at the wine in two very important moments. The first is when the sommelier delivers a bottle of wine to you at your table. At this moment, you are checking for the correct vintage. This is important because there could be a huge price difference in a bottle of Cabernet from 2017 and 2007, for example. You want to make sure you get what you pay for!

The second moment is after the wine is poured into the glass. Holding your wine glass by the stem, in front of a white napkin and in good light, will allow you to look at clarity and color. You first want to notice whether the wine is clear or cloudy. Clarity is key as wine should always be clear and brilliant in color. (Natural wines can be the exception.) A cloudy wine could be an indication of a wine fault or that something went wrong during the winemaking process.

How to Properly Taste Wine - See Infographic Step 1

Next look at the color. Color can give you an idea of the climate in the region where the wine is from. Wines from cooler regions tend to be paler in color, whereas wines from warmer regions have a more intense color. Color can also indicate the age of a wine. White wine gets darker as it ages, and an aged white wine will be gold to amber in color. Red wine, on the other hand, gets lighter and more transparent. An aged red wine will change to garnet and may have a brick-red rim that circles the edge of the wine juice in the glass.

Expert Tip: by angling the wine glass at a 45-degree angle, you will notice the rim of the wine. A wide color variation of the rim can indicate that the wine in your glass is an older wine, while a tight or non-discernable variation can indicate that you are about to enjoy a young wine.

Step #2 – Swirl

Absolutely my favorite step! This is not something we do only to look fancy and professional. Swirling the wine actually aerates it and opens up the aromas, making smells more robust and easier to identify.

Swirling the wine can also show off the wine legs, or tears as some call them. In a glass of wine, the legs are the lines of lingering wine that continue to run down the sides of the glass as it sits in place. Great legs are not an indication of quality but rather an indication of the wine’s viscosity, sugar, and alcohol levels.

How to Properly Taste Wine - swirl - Infographic Step 2

Step #3 – Smell

The nose is amazing; well trained, it can smell over 2,000 different aromas. Do not worry: when smelling wine, the expectation is not to be a master smeller; simply identifying basic aromas is good enough.

Start off with the basics, like is it pleasant or unpleasant? Then smell in colors. Does it smell yellow, orange, purple, or red? Next, try to pick a fruit, flower, or spice. Don’t be disappointed if you only smell wine… that is the number one correct answer!

How to Properly Taste Wine - smell - Infographic Step 3

Step #4 – Sip

Finally, the step that everyone looks forward to in this tasting ceremony. How you sip says a lot about you, actually. The proper way is to avoid gulping, deep throating, or smacking. Slowly take a reasonable amount of wine into your mouth and swish it around.

At this point, you want to get to know the wine by introducing it to all parts of your mouth. The front or tip of your tongue is where you will notice sweetness; the sides of your tongue is where the acidity will tingle and increase your desire for food; the center and back of the tongue is where you will notice any dryness and bitterness coming from tannins; and, lastly, as the wine slowly slides down your throat, you will uncover the alcohol sensation of the wine.

How to Properly Taste Wine - sip - Infographic Step 4

Step #5 – Savor

Ultimately, savoring is what makes wine more special than any other beverage. Savoring is the experience that you have with wine as the lingering aromas, texture, and complexity stay on your tongue and in the back of your throat. This lingering sensation is also called the finish. A long and complex finish is a good indication of a quality wine.

How to Properly Taste Wine - Tastes and Aromas Wheel - Infographic Step 5

Bonus Step 🎉

The bonus step is to connect with the wine. In this bonus step, it is important to make a final judgement about the wine. This final judgement can be two-pronged. The first is objective: was the wine balanced with pleasant aromas and taste? The second is your own personal opinion about how you connected with the wine: is the wine something you would pay for again, is it something you want to try again with food, or would you recommend the wine to a friend?

When wine tasting, it is best to taste wine in flights. A wine flight is a lineup of at least three two-ounce glasses of wine. They can be themed by region, vintage dates, or grape varietal. Comparing wine side by side gives you a great perspective and a way to identify nuances and taste.

Food is the final addition you can add for a proper wine tasting experience. I suggest a variety of snacks or small bites, ranging from spicy to salty and sweet. Keep in mind the qualities of your snacks and how they will react with or compliment your wines, paying attention to how they balance or imbalance each other on your palette. Pairing wine with these different snacks will give you an opportunity to connect with the wine and might just change your mind about a wine you didn't enjoy at first.

Ultimately, wine tasting is best when you are relaxed. Grab a couple “new to you wines,” follow the steps for tasting wine, and enjoy your snack life for the very best wine experience alone or with friends.

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Rosé of Sangiovese


Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.




Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon


If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir


We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons


The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.




A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.


Côtes du Rhône White


This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.


Bordeaux Rouge


When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.


Ventoux Rosé


You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.



Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.


La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.




This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.



We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.


Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.




For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.


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