Andrew Villarreal
February 16, 2022 | Andrew Villarreal

How to taste wine like a sommelier

How to taste wine like a sommelier. 

Sommelier - suh · muhl • yay

Wine tasting can be intimidating, especially if you are new to the world of wine. You have probably seen and heard different ways on how to hold your wine glass, how to swirl the wine, etc. When a sommelier (somm) approaches a glass of wine they are looking at a few things: 1. The color, 2. The aromas, and 3. The taste. These three attributes are used when a somm is practicing deductive tasting also known as “blind tasting”. Deductive tasting helps a somm sharpen their skills in truly knowing what a wine is even when there is no label, no information, and no bias. 

I think this is where most people get anxious about wine tasting, the idea of having to guess all the flavors that come from a wine. The thing that might help ease these anxieties is knowing you are not being tested as a sommelier, no one is grading you on your right or wrong answers. Tasting wine is so subjective and your experience is your own. What I think a strawberry smells like could be completely different than what you think a strawberry smells like. We have different experiences and scent is the strongest sense linked to memory. Here is a pro tip: smell EVERYTHING!!! When you are grocery shopping, smell the fruits and smell the fresh herbs. Going for a walk in spring and summer, smell the flowers. Cooking dinner, smell the herbs and spices, smell the chopped veggies. Smell everything!

The common misconception is that you only taste wine when you take a sip from the glass. Your sense of smell is responsible for 80% of your perception of taste. You do not have taste buds that are specifically targeted at detecting strawberry or lemon or apple or vanilla. Your taste buds are meant to taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter.  Swirl the glass to release the aromas to get the maximum enjoyment. When you swirl the wine you are introducing oxygen to the wine which unlocks all the great aromas and allows your nose to pick up the different nuances. When you are wine tasting it is important to swish the wine around in your mouth to get your whole palate covered. This way you will have the full effect of tasting the wine and this will give you a better understanding of what that wine is and all of its components. 

With this knowledge, my hope is that you feel more comfortable coming across your next tasting. I hope you keep these tips and tricks with you so you can enjoy your next glass of wine and sip and swirl like a somm!


Andrew Villarreal

Sommelier / Wine Coach


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