The Oethical Oenologist’s Complete Guide To Wine Tasting: Getting Started

There's no need to fear rows of bottles at a wine tasting

If you don’t know the first thing about how to taste wine, this series of posts is for you. I’ve broken down what is an intimidating task, wine tasting, into digestible bits that will help you learn how to taste wine and take a note. As you master each part, move onto the next. And feel free to email, comment, or reach out to me on social media if you have questions! And if you’re super excited and don’t want to read the intro (even though I think you should), you can skip right to the meat of this post by clicking here.

What You’ll Learn About Wine Tasting

In part one (this part) you’ll learn what wine tasting is, what you need to know before you start, and the items that will help you learn.

Part two will provide you with more terms than you can shake a stick at – lucky for you it includes some downloadable content to help you master them. And here’s a tip before you start: learn the terms. They’re the ones everyone uses and will deepen your understanding more quickly than any other method.

When you get to part three you’ll learn how to look at wine and assess its clarity and color. You’ll also learn what conclusions you can make based solely on a wine’s look. You might not be right, but often there are clues right in your glass before your nose gets in there. Much of this post is a video so you can taste right along with me.

The fourth part in the series will get into smelling wine – where the intimidation factor usually starts. There will be more downloadable content here including even more terms.

Part five will explore your palate. This is tricky, like smelling wine. Personally, I find it a little easier so this will be a reward for many of you after the trickiness of using your nose.

Finally, in part six, we’ll take a note for three wines: a red wine, a white wine and a rosé.

For now, let’s dive right in!

What Is Wine Tasting?

Wine tasting is an orderly approach to evaluating a wine. It focuses on the appearance, nose and palate before having the taster draw some conclusions. It’s kind of intimidating, especially if you’re around people who taste a lot, but practicing with a few friends is a great way to get better.

The ONE THING You Must Know About Tasting Wine

Before you start, it’s really good to have one thing cemented in your brain so you don’t psyche yourself out. There is only one way to get better: regularly practicing using the same process.

  1. Practice makes perfect. If you don’t taste regularly, you will never improve. Make it part of your routine. Every time you drink, take 5 minutes to assess what’s in your glass.
  2. Routine is key. Always approach every wine the exact same way. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself looking up far more complicated notations than the basic ones I’m sharing today.

What You Need

Throughout this series you’ll want to have a few things nearby. The start of each post will include what you need – you don’t need every item every time.

  • A low-odor, quiet, well-lit space with a white table. No white table? Grab a nice bright white towel or even a bright piece of poster board.
  • Three bottles of wine. Red, white, rosé. If you’re doing this with friends have multiple bottles of each wine.
  • A small notebook. There are all kinds of gorgeous wine tasting journals out there but for me my regular old notebook that I carry works best. I recommend starting out with something simple so that you can figure out how you like to take a note and then develop from there. There are also apps, but I’m a pen on paper sort of girl.
  • Index cards. Flashcards are super helpful for learning to taste wine. There are also flashcard apps if you prefer.
  • Headphones or speakers. This series includes a few videos so make sure that you are able to listen either through headphones in a public space or speakers if you’re watching privately.

Taste With The Oethical Oenologist

I’ll keep you updated on Facebook and Instagram with the wines I’ll be drinking as well as when you can tune in to watch videos live or the archived versions on YouTube and my social channels. I’ll also include Q&A each week, so if you have a question, let me know and I’ll answer it. Chances are someone else has the same question you do but is too shy to ask!

Come back next week for terms and downloadable content to help you as you learn to taste wine. See you then!

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