Tasting Wine the Simple Way, the Only Way

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Pictured above: Wine barrel where the wine is aged and wine tanks where the wine is made at Two EE’s winery. Photos by Sarah Goodman.

The “pop” of a cork coming out of a freshly opened bottle of wine is enough to get most wine lovers excited about pouring themselves a glass. But is simply sipping wine enough to get a fulfilled wine drinking experience?

“Actually, tasting wine is so much more than a lot of people think,” Eric Harris, owner and wine maker at Two EE’s Winery in Huntington, Ind., said. “It’s a simple process but most just drink wine, not actually taste the different elements of it.”

Agreeing with Harris, Gary Skeel, owner of Wine Down Tasting and Tapas in Fort Wayne, said the proper wine tasting process is a simple one that many people do not practice.

Skeel said the appropriate wine tasting steps are the “five S’s: sight, swirl, smell, sip and savor.” Harris said the same five steps as the most substantial parts in properly tasting wine.

“Sight is a very important step,” Harris said. “You have to visually inspect the wine to insure that it isn’t flawed.”

Skeel said if a wine has a brown tint to it, chances are that the wine has gone bad. Another indicator of wine being flawed is if the cork falls apart or breaks easily when opening the bottle.

The next step in wine tasting is swirling the wine. “Swirling wine in the glass allows the wine to open up,” Skeel said. “Red wines need to open up more than whites do, so you don’t always need to do this step with white wines.”

“I always make sure to swirl my wine before tasting it,” Brittainy Ellis, a wine enthusiast, said. “Swirling the wine lets me see if the wine is a big bodied wine and how intense it will be on my palate.”

According to Paul Gregutt, author of the online magazine article, “How to Taste Wine” from winemag.com, Swirling the wine can reveal which wines are riper, more mouth filling and dense.

After swirling the wine in its glass, smell the wine’s aroma. “Surprisingly, smelling the wine is something that people often skip,” Harris said.

There are three types of wine aromas that are identifiable according to Madeline Puckette, author of the online blog, “Learn How to Taste Wine & Develop Your Palate” from winefolly.com.

There are primary aromas that carry fruit, herb, and floral notes, secondary aromas that come from the yeast of the wine and finally tertiary bouquets that smell like oak, vanilla, spices or nuts.

Skeel said the smelling step in wine tasting is vital because it can help you determine if the wine is sweet or dry. People who enjoy sweet wines will typically want to smell fruity aromas compared to those who enjoy dry wines, who will want to smell more nutty and oak scents.

After smelling the wine, take a sip, absorbing the flavor and structure. “Tasting is something that we do naturally,” Harris said. “But actually thinking about the different flavors of the wine is key to knowing if you really like it or not.”

Savoring, or thinking about what is tasted, the wine is the final step. This is when it is determined if the wine is one that is enjoyable, as well as if it is balanced.

“Balance is everything when I’m drinking wine,” Ellis said. “If the wine is out of balance to me, then I don’t really enjoy it.”

“Acidity, body, mouth feel, bitterness and sweetness are all things that determine if a wine is balanced or out of balance,” Harris said. “If all of the key elements aren’t in harmony to whoever is tasting the wine, then the wine is out of balance.”

Overall, the key to wine tasting is finding wines that are enjoyable. If all of the proper steps are covered while tasting wine, then finding wines that are enjoyable should be no problem, Skeel said.

Now that the proper steps for wine tasting have been identified, experiment with various types of wine to discover the right one. Cheers!

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