A writer once wrote: “Wine tasting offers us the best route to understanding the messages hidden in the bottle.”
Here are some specifics to look for when trying to decipher those messages:
Appearance: Look at the wine. Is it clear, brilliant, cloudy, or dull? Notice the depth of color.
Smell (Aroma, Bouquet): Smell the wine and notice the aroma. Swirl the glass and liberate as many aroma molecules as you can to maximize your total taste and smell experience, then smell the wine again. Is it neutral, clean, attractive, outstanding, or is it acetic, oxidized, yeasty or corky? Can you recognize the fruit of the specific varietal you are sampling? Is the aroma intense, slight or none?
Palate Impression (Taste): Take a sip and “let in some air” along with it. Swish the wine around in your mouth and make sure it touches all of your tongue, and then let it slide gently down your throat. Relative Dryness can range from tart, bone dry, dry, off-dry, slightly sweet, sweet, to very sweet. You can taste the sweetness on the tip of your tongue. Body range is light, medium, full, very full. Texture is thin, light, round, smooth, supple and fleshy. Oak can range from none, light, evident, pronounced to too much. Acidity is flat, refreshing, or tart and can be felt on the sides of your tongue. Tannin (red wines) is astringent, high, medium or mild. Aftertaste can be short, lingering (3-6 seconds), long (7-11 seconds) and very long (more than 12 seconds). Balance is complete harmony in the primary constituents of the wine. It can range from poor, good, very good to excellent balance.
Now determine the overall quality of the wine based on your own impression. Remember you are the best judge of what wine you enjoy the most!