How to Taste Wine – SIGHT – Part 1

Learn how to taste wine like a pro!

How to set up your wine tasting

For this first part (in a four part series), I want to talk to you about how to set up your wine tasting for success. Then I want to go into specifics on how ‘sight’ is a key part of a wine tasting, and teach you how to see and observe wines in ways that are fun and not snooty.

wine tasting

So, here is everything you need to prepare:

  • Pick multiple wines – two or three wines are just fine.
  • Small wine glasses – I prefer tasting glasses, but regular wine glasses are fine (they must be see-through).
  • Have a towel at hand for spillages.
  • Prepare a notebook and pen/pencil to take notes.
  • Have a blank, white piece of paper on the side.
  • Make sure to have a spitting bucket or a cup to spit into.
  • Hot tip: Don’t wear white!

You CANNOT be drunk and learn!

People really don’t like the idea of a spitting bucket, but let me tell you, you DO NOT want to be drunk at a wine tasting. I repeat: YOU CANNOT BE DRUNK AND LEARN. Those two things are not compatible. So GET OVER IT and get the bucket!

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Okay, now that that’s off my chest…

Seeing and observing wine

observing wine

Once you have picked out your wines, pour a small amount into the tasting glasses. Place the glasses on top of the white piece of paper and tilt it so that you can look at the wine over the white surface. What color do you see? You can use a wine color chart, or just make up your own colors. To gauge opacity, you can sit the wine glass directly on the white paper and look down into it.

In your notebook, make a chart and write down the colors you see, the clarity you see, the opacity you can see, and anything else that is interesting about the sight of the wine.

Here’s an example of what you might write during the ‘sight’ portion of a red wine tasting:

Wine 1Wine 2
Ruby colorPurple Color
Lots of bubbleNo bubbles
Medium-cloudinessVery cloudy

It’s worth noting that both red and white wines get browner over time. The oxidation process will make red wines get slightly lighter in color (because the pigments are heavy and float to the bottom) and white wines slightly darker.

That’s it for this week, folks!

Join me next time for PART 2 when I will talk about SMELL during a wine tasting.

How to taste wine - sight