Wine Tasting In Six Steps

By Lynne Coyle Master of Wine | O'Briens Wine Director

Wine Tasting In Six Steps

Have you ever wanted to know more about the wine in your glass? Or wondered what all the swirling and slurping in professional wine tasting is all about? O'Briens Wine Director, Lynne Coyle Master of Wine is here to talk you through O’Briens’ “six Ss”– an easy-to-follow system that will soon have you tasting wine like a pro!

Check out the video below for Lynne’s quick but comprehensive guide to wine tasting. It's the perfect way to "wine mindfully" too.

“By the end of this session, I’ll have taught you all about the 'Briens 'six Ss',” Lynne says. “You’ll have more confidence and more understanding about how to approach your glass of wine and how to get more from that glass of wine.”

The six steps to tasting wine like a pro

1. See
"See" the wine in the glass. It should be clear and bright and if you want to double check it, hold the glass against a white sheet of paper. 

The colour starts to tell you about the style of the wine. As a general rule, with red wines you could say that the darker the colour, the richer and more powerful the wine is going to be. It’s not necessarily always the case, but deeper, richer whites could mean that the wine is going to be sweeter or it could mean the wine is older.

2. Swirl
Two mouthfuls of wine (two horizontal fingers width) is a perfect amount to pour in the glass. The bowl keeps the wine at the bottom of the glass and the tapering allows the aromas to be released gently so that you can still "nose" (smell) them.

Hold the glass by the stem and give it a gentle swirl, allowing the oxygen to release aromas in the wine for the next step…

3. Sniff
You have to get your nose into the glass and take two or three strong sniffs to start to understand the aromas the wine is releasing. That's one of the most important stages of wine tasting. Your nose tires quite quickly so it's better to take two or three really good sniffs - if you take, say, six or eight shorter ones, you won't be able to smell as much.

When you're smelling the wine, concentrate on what the wine is saying to you. You don't need to worry too much about vocabulary, just let the wine talk to you. There's no right and no wrong here, just enjoy the sensation and aromas.

4. Sip
And now we're going to sip the wine. Take a good mouthful and coat your gums, your tongue, and your cheeks. Your taste buds are on different parts of your tongue so, in order for you to understand the flavours in the wine, it's important that that you take a decent mouthful and swirl all around your palate.

5. Slurp
Now the "slurp". It sounds disgusting but it makes a major difference to how you can taste the wine. Similar to how the oxygen allows the aromas to be released when you swirl the glass, when you take some oxygen through your teeth onto the surface of the wine, it releases a lot more flavour.

6. Spit
And the final stage of the six Ss is the "spit". As professional tasters we would always spit wine when we're tasting as it keeps the palate much fresher.

So, you've agitated, you've sipped and you're now going to spit. Then think about those flavours: how long do they last, what's the intensity, what's the aftertaste? That's another key factor for spitting - you can assess those flavours, the aftertaste and the length of the wine much more carefully when you've spat the wine.

And that’s it! Give the O’Briens "six Ss" a try the next time you’re enjoying a glass of wine. You might be surprised at what you discover.

READ MORE: Wine Mindfully
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