Two people smelling and sipping wine in front of a sun set

This Is How To Taste Wine Like A Pro

When we all know…you don’t know how 🍷

You’re at dinner with your new partner and their parents.

So far, so good.  You’ve kept the conversation away from politics or religion, and no-one’s cried.  Yet.

And then the waiter wanders over and says “would you like to taste the wine?”

We’ve all been there. But don’t worry, we’ve discovered from first-hand experience that with a few simple steps, anyone can look (and feel) like “I’ve got this one…”

The clue’s in the name

The wine list can give you some advance warning of what to expect from a wine. Very broadly speaking, if it’s an “old world” wine (generally, those coming from Europe), you can expect to be lighter than the heavy, bold-flavoured “new world” (think Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Americas) wines.

Get a grip

When your glass has been poured, hold it by the stem and swirl it in one direction – gently (you want the wine to stay in the glass!).

Is it corked?

Next check if it’s corked. You’re on fairly safe ground here.  Restaurant wine rarely is, and if it’s a screw-top, there’s no issue at all.  But if the wine smells of drains or damp toilet roll, it’s probably corked. Unsure? Hand it back to the server and get their opinion (they will probably panic and bring a new bottle).

A matter of taste 

Most of the time, taking a sip, and giving the waiter a confident “That’s great, thanks” is all that’s needed.

Don’t try too hard to “talk the talk”.  Identifying individual tastes can be hard, particularly when “butterscotch”, “smoke” and “wet dogs” are seemingly acceptable descriptions of flavour, but – as we learned to our cost – “green Skittles” isn’t …

There are some things you should be able pick out, though. 

For reds, is it more fruity or spicy?  Is that white fruity or floral?  And if it’s fruity, what fruit does it remind you of?  For red wines, you’re talking black fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants, plums), or red fruits (cherry, raspberry, cranberry).  For whites, think citruses, stone fruits (apricots, peaches), tree fruits (apples, pears) and tropical fruits (pineapple, banana, papaya).

That should be more than enough to get you by.  Just get things over with quickly, and then get back to worrying about not spilling anything down your shirt…

 “Or maybe it was yellow Skittles, not green?”