How To Taste Wine to Assess for Flavour Characteristics and Structural Elements

Aerating the Wine In Your Mouth

  1. Take a sip of a small mouthful of wine and cup it in the front part of your mouth.
  2. Keeping the wine in your mouth, draw in air and allow it to bubble through the wine.
  3. Exhale through your nose. This releases aromas closely connected with the wine’s flavour and disperses them across your taste buds and olfactory receptors, enabling you to get a complete profile of the wine’s flavour.
  4. Swirl the wine through your mouth one more time before swallowing or spitting. Take note of the feel of the wine in your mouth. A wine can feel sharp or soft.



Assessing the Wine: Pay Attention to the Structural Elements First

What are the structural elements of a wine?

  • Sweetness

  • Acidity

  • Tannin

  • Body

  • Alcohol


Tannins which are present in red wines, give the wine an astringent, drying sensation (similar to tea). Wines that are “full-bodied” and deep in colour tend to be rich in flavour because the juice has been in contact with the grape skin and seeds longer. As a test, try compare the texture of Pinot Noir vs the texture of a Cabernet Sauvignon.


Finally, do an overall assessment of the flavours and textures. Think back to the aromas you previously noted and compare and contrast them with the taste.

Refer to the following pages for the flavour profiles associated with each varietal:

Top 7 White Wine Grape Varietals

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Sauvignon Blanc
  3. Pinot Gris (Grigio)
  4. Gewürztraminer
  5. Riesling
  6. Muscat
  7. Viognier

Top 7 Red Wine Grape Varietals

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Malbec
  4. Pinot Noir
  5. Zinfandel
  6. Cabernet Franc
  7. Tempranillo


Here’s Your Next Lesson:

Wine Tasting 241: Finish & Final Assessment