How to taste red wine like a Pro

Ever wonder how to taste wine like a pro?  Let me show you the four key steps you need to know in order to taste any wine. They are called the “four S’s.” To start you need about two ounces of wine, a wine glass, a white napkin, and your mouth.

The four S’s are the following:

See- Picking the glass up by the stem and not by the bowl avoids warming the wine.  Hold the glass against a wine background or white napkin. When you tilt it and look at the rim, what color do you see at the outermost edge of the wine?  If it is a purple or ruby color, this is an indicator that it is probably a young wine. If it is an amber color, this usually indicates that it is an older wine.  Over time, the older a wine gets, the more it changes from purple tones to yellow-brownish tones.

Sniff –This is very important.  You will now need to swirl the wine in order to speed up the evaporation of alcohol, which transports the aromas from the liquid into the air so that you can smell them. To do this you will need to swirl the wine in your wine glass on a table:   hold the base and agitate it in a circular movement. Then raise the glass to your nose, and take a a few sharp breaths.  What do you smell?  Fruits?  Wood? Try to identify them using a wine aroma wheel.

Sip- Now, finally, take a sip, but don’t swallow it.  Swoosh it in your mouth, try to inhale some air by tilting your head down, and doing a reverse whistle.  Be careful; this can get messy. I like to take my tongue and move it around my mouth, near the front of my teeth, to allow the wine to touch all tips of my tongue.  If you do this, you will be able to tell the body of the wine.  Does it feel like heavy cream or like skim milk?  This is an indicator of the body of the wine.  What do you taste? Can you place it? Swallow.  How does your mouth feel now? Was it silky smooth or rough on your mouth? This is an indicator of the tannin in the wine.  How long did the sensation last? The longer, the better.  This is called the finish.

Summarize-  This is where you decide whether you liked the wine or not. Was it smooth or rough? Did the taste linger in your mouth long after the sip? How was the body of the wine? Heavy or light? Did you like the flavors you tasted? And finally, would you take another sip?  If the answer is yes, then, this wine is perfect for you!

The more wine you try, the more developed your palate will become. To help you identify the wine aromas and flavors, check out the Wine Aroma Wheel, as developed by Dr. Anne Noble of  the Universityof California, Davis, available at

The more you understand a wine, the more you’ll enjoy it!  Cheers!

Adapted from YouTube, Video Courtesy of Wine Spectator School, at:

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