A beginners guide on how to taste wine


One of the most asked questions of our Wine professionals is, ‘How do I taste wine like a pro?’

Tons of articles have been written on the subject and they all cover the basics of sight, smell and taste. But we think the jargon around tasting can be overwhelming, so we’re dialling it right back and giving you some real, honest and achievable tips on how to get more from your tasting experience.


How to Taste Wine

Anyone can taste wine, all you need is practice and patience to adapt your palette. These are the 4 steps to wine tasting:



Whether it be medium ruby, dark purple, or rich mahogany, the essential part of sight is just taking notice of the colour. The more you look at wines the more you will notice the intricacies between them. So take a gander and make sure to note any differences in colour, opacity, and viscosity.



Our sense of smell translates to about 80% of what we eventually taste so don't miss this vital step. This is the fun part. Giving voice to the aromas that they are smelling is what most people find challenging but think of your sense of smell as a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it will get.

If you are not familiar with the scent of lemon curd or passion fruit then there is no way your brain will identify that particular aroma if it's present in the wine. The trick is to be curious, take notice of the smells around you and practice being able to describe them. Soon you'll have the nose of a beagle and be on the hunt for truffles.

Start by trying to identify a couple of fruits, then move on to spices, flowers or herbs. There might be something very particular or familiar to you and believe us it's worth the persistence to find out what it is. It might be red lolly frogs, Uncle Jack's coffee breath or a freshly mown lawn on a Thursday. If you can recognise it, then feel empowered to own it.


Try dissecting the wine into smaller components. It’ll help describe the overall taste of the wine. With enough practice, you will eventually be able to blind-taste a wine down to the style or region. Here are the details on what to pay attention to.


How to describe the taste of wine?

Acid - Acidity is felt by a puckering sensation, like when your mouth waters after biting into a lemon. Wines have a range of acidity, so think about if the acidity is noticeable to you. Typically, light-bodied white wines will be highly acidic such as a Riesling or Champagne.

Alcohol - Alcohol can be determined by the warmth felt in the back of the throat. Remember when you tried your first bourbon or tequila? That burning sensation was alcohol. Wines range from low alcohol 7-11 % to higher around 15-18%.

Tannins - Tannins can be felt but rarely tasted, so look out for more of a sensation on your tongue. Some describe it as prickly or drying. Some notable red varieties that are naturally high in tannins include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.

Sweetness - Sweetness is usually one we can be pretty confident in, after all, we can identify if something is too sweet for our own taste pretty quickly. Ask yourself is the wine sugary and syrupy sweet or more fruity and refreshing?

Body - This refers to the weight of the wine. Is the wine light or full-bodied, does it fill your whole mouth? Does it feel rich and heavy or easy to drink and buoyant?

These keywords are like hand holds for attempting to put language to what's happening in your mouth so don't be frightened of them, they are there as a guide.


How to clean your palette for wine tasting?

You will be surprised to know that any plain white bread or even a french baguette is considered to be the best way to cleanse your palate before tasting wine. Due to the simple, starchy flavour, it works wonders by absorbing any taste from the previous wine. It is also very neutral and won't leave any remnants in your mouth. 


How to host a wine-tasting event?

Grab your friends and have some fun by going head-to-head with each other with blind wine tasting. Have everybody that is invited bring a bottle of wine and make sure it is disguised. Be sure to have enough wine glasses to correspond with the number of people at your event. Allow your guests to make notes on each tasting based on their smell, look and taste. After tasting, discuss impressions of each wine, read out your notes – and remember, there is no absolute right or wrong answer except to have fun.

Like a lot of things worth learning in life, you gotta start somewhere and in this case, the process of learning means trying more wine. Now that's the kind of research we can get on board with!