Wine Tasting 101 – Some of the Basics

If you are new to wine tasting chances are you are somewhat overwhelmed by all the jargon and specifics of tasting wine. Below are some simple tips, short and sweet, to help you identify good wines from bad ones so you can get more enjoyment out of your bottles of vino. Firstly, let us look at the good:

Some of the good qualities:


Deep colors can indicate fuller flavors.


Wine should be clear with a bit of sparkle when you look through it in the glass.


After swirling the wine around in your glass, the appearance of strong ‘tears’ aka ‘legs’ lingering on the sides of the glass can indicate a more full-bodied wine. Swirling also helps release aromas to your nose.


After swirling, deeply sniff the wine. The smell should be pleasant. The more complex and pleasing the smell, chances are the better the wine will taste.


Try to identify the different notes of fruit, spice, herbs, earth, wood, smoke, honey, etc. Taste is different for everyone so learn to know what you enjoy.

Some of the bad qualities:


A taste of vinegar can indicate too much acetic acid caused by a bacteria called Acetobacter. While not harmful, it degrades the taste of the wine. 

Chemical Smells

A ‘nail polish’ smell can indicate too much volatile acidity. The smell of burnt matches can indicate too much sulfur dioxide was added. Both negatively affect the taste of your wine.

Too much Oxidation

Tilt the glass. The color of the wine at the edges can give clues as to the presence of excessive oxidation. In whites you’ll see a brownish color; in reds, you’ll see a rusty/orange color.


Unless you purchased sparkling wine, bubbles should not be present and indicate unwanted secondary fermentation.


A musty aroma like wet newspapers can indicate a ‘corked’ wine, which is not reversible with letting the wine breathe, and indicates the taste has been ruined.

Well, there you have it, some of the basics of wine tasting. Hopefully, you won’t stop here as there is a lot more to tasting and enjoying all the many different wines of the world. Keep learning and trying different wines as it will only enhance your ability to enjoy one of the top-10 most popular drinks in the world… – glorious wine!

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