Home » All About Wine » How to Taste

All. About. Wine.

How to Taste Wine

The 5 “Esses”


We all love drinking wine, right? I mean, why else would you be here? However, tasting wine and drinking wine are two very different things. In this section, we go over the basic steps used by wine professionals and enthusiasts to break down what is going on in your glass!
These steps are also known as The 5 “Esses”- See, Swirl, Smell, Sip Savor.

The 5 esses

#1: See


The first step in evaluating a wine is simply to take a look! (It’s easiest to do this step over a white surface.) Tip your glass sideways. What range of colors are you seeing? Is the wine clear or cloudy? Is it thin and watery, or thick and syrupy? All of these are clues as to how the wine was made and what it’s age might be.

glass, drink, wine
The 5 Esses

#2: Swirl


For this step, always make sure to hold your wine glass by the stem. Holding your glass by the bowl can change the temperature of the wine (which, presumably, is at the proper serving temperture). Now, swirl the wine around! This breaks the surface tension of the wine and allows the aromas to fill the bowl of your glass.

The 5 Esses

#3: Smell


Stick your nose into your glass (don’t be shy!) and take a deep breath. Since aroma is a massive part of your taste, this is a crucial step. What is it that you smell? If you’re new to wine tasting, start small. For whites- is it fresh and citrusy? Floral? Nutty? For reds- do you get fruit- is it more like raspberries or plums? Or is it earthy- like mushrooms or meat? Once you can describe the basic aromas, dig a little deeper- is this citrus warmer like a clementine, or cool like a lime? Is the fruit more like berries or peaches? The more time you spend with the wine, the more aromas you’ll begin to discover!

wine tasting, winery, vineyard
The 5 esses

#4: Sip


Here’s the fun part- take a sip (just a small sip!) and slurp the wine through your teeth. Yes, it will be noisy, but that’s OK! Take a minute to let the wine move around your mouth before you swallow. First, what did you feel? Was the wine acidic (did it make your mouth salivate)? Or was the wine bitter-also called tannic- (did it make create a drying sensation)? You can also get a sense of the wine’s body- think like water, thick like syrup, or something in-between?

The 5 esses

#5: Savor


Reflect on what you just tasted. What were you’re overall impressions of the wine? What sort of flavors did you discover in the wine? Were they similar to the aromas that you smelled earlier (oftentimes the aromas and flavors can be very different)? Did the wine seem balanced? Or did it have too much of something- too acidic, too bitter, etc? Did the wine have a lingering finish? In other words, could you keep tasting the wine for several moments after you swallowed?

Now sit back, relax and enjoy your bottle!

Featured Articles


flowers, flower arrangement, bouquet-4497799.jpg

Natural Wines 101

The latest trend in wine is not a trend at all; instead, it’s a return to winemaking in its simplest form. Natural wines eschew commercialization …
Read More
wine, wine storage, cellar-504494.jpg

Wine Storage Pros and Cons

The Wine Cellar Myth Wine enthusiasts seem to agree that aging wine is the ne plus ultra of wine expertise.  But what if the whole enterprise was …
Read More
decant

Decanting Tips

When and how to decant wine is one of the most frequently asked questions about wine. It seems like a special superpower ascribed only to …
Read More

Five Wines Loved by Sommeliers

Drink What You Like? “Drink what you like” has become the slogan of the wine cognoscenti. You hear it everywhere: in restaurants and wineries, not to mention …
Read More
Wine Tasting Basics

Wine Tasting Basics

 Wine Tasting Basics You’ll first need to gather some basic tools. Here are our recommendations. We don’t include decanting in this artcile, but it is recommended. …
Read More
grape, grapes handle, vine

Sustainability

This article discusses sustainability as it pertains to the wine industry and provides resources for organizations and certifications around the globe.
Read More
Scroll to Top