5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Wine Palate

When out to dinner and having a glass of wine, have you noticed people holding the glass up and looking at it or swirling it around.  Do you wonder: “What are they doing?” Learning to appreciate the wine you are drinking is quite simple. Here are 5 steps to improve your wine palate. To start all you need is a glass of wine.

1. Sight

Start by holding your glass against a white background or white tablecloth to view color. What do you see? Note the color of the wine. Do you see a pale yellow for a white wine or inky purple for a red? The color will tell you something about the wine.

Color  –  White wines can range from a pale yellow (young) to an amber gold (aged a bit longer in barrels). Red wines range from a deep inky purple to a pale red, and some even gain a hint of brown (wine has been aged). Reds also become more translucent as they age.

Wine Legs  –  Start by tipping the glass of wine slightly to one side and then tilt it back. Look at the side of the glass. The lines that run down the side are referred to as legs. These legs are a sign of the wine’s alcohol level. The more legs you see the higher its alcohol content.

2. Swirl

Next swirl the wine in your glass. This opens up the wine and releases the wine’s aromas. Next, take in the aromas, by holding the glass up to your nose and inhaling.

3. Smell

When breathing in the aroma of the wine, what do you smell? There often are many different aromas, but what do you smell first? Aromas are broken down into four primary scents which I have listed below to help you sort the aromas you may find in any glass.

  • Fruit  –  Stone Fruit & Berries
  • Herbal Notes  –  Herbs/Spices & Floral
  • Earthy  –  Mushrooms, Minerals & Grass
  • Oak Notes/Wood  –  Toast, Smoke, Vanilla & Carmel
4. Sip

Notice the sweetness, acidity or tannins. The human tongue can only taste five primary flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory. What scents you smelled, will play a part in what you taste.

5. Savor

Remember, taste is personal. Trust your own pallet. Ask yourself these couple of questions: Did you like the wine? What about the wine stood out to you?

Many times to improve my tasting skills I set up 3 glasses of wine and compare several wines from the same varietal at one time. This allows me to notice the difference in color, aroma and taste. Doing this exercise has helped to improve my palate quickly.

Try for yourself and let me know your thoughts, and please share your own suggestions.


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