It’s easy to be intimidated when tasting wine, especially if you’re around professional sommeliers or wine connoisseurs…with learning the 5 S’s you’ll be able to get the most out of any glass of wine, enjoying it to it’s fullest potential and gain further appreciation for it too.
What are the 5 S’s when it comes to wine tasting? See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor
Look at the wine… What colour is the wine? How does it look? Is it clear and bright or cloudy and dulled? To effectively judge the colour of a wine, tilt the glass slightly away from you and against a white background. From a wine’s colour we can find clues to the grape variety, it’s age and whether it was aged in oak. The colour also tends to give an indication and allow us to predict the flavour intensity too.
Did you know White Wines gain colour as they age going deeper yellow to gold, whereas Red Wines typically lose their colour turning brown or dulled.
Holding the wine glass by it’s stem, swirl the glass slightly in circular motions a couple of times (right-handed tasters will find it easier to swirl anti-clockwise as opposed to left-hand tasters). Swirling the glass in key to aerate the wine and allowing oxygen to open the wine up for tasting (oxidising). By oxidizing the wine it’ll reveal its complexities, raise intensities and wow you properly. Also notice how the wine ‘clings’ to the glass, is the wine thick and dense (like a sweeter wine) leaving streaks (legs) down the inside of the wine glass?
What do you smell? Now that you’ve encouraged oxygen into the glass and released the inner beauty of the wine, what can you find in the aromas of the wine? Smell if the main sense used in wine tasting so it’s essential not to hurry this step. What does the wine remind you of? What fruits, vegetables are you sensing? Are there any herbs, spices or floral aromas? If it’s being shy and not giving much away revert back to step 2 and swirl a little more between sniff’s!
Well worth the wait, you can now take your very first sip of the wine to experience it on your palate. What do you taste? Holding the wine in your mouth for 3-5 seconds, letting your mouth truly ‘feel’ the wine before swallowing, will help you discover its full flavours, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and alcohol all at the same time. It’s one of the most complex parts of the tasting experience… when wine pro’s taste wine you’ll hear some slightly disturbing and off-putting sounds as they swish and swoosh it around, sucking in air as they do so to aerate further on the palate and make sure it hits the entire tongue and mouth to helping them better gauge the wine.
The best part, and last part to complete the experience! Does the taste of the wine linger? Savor the final essence of the wine and sensations it leaves you with… look for length, balance, acidity, texture, tannins and decide if this wine is something you desire or dislike!