Be a Wine Tasting Expert

I like wine tasting, though I know very little about wine (outside what I’ve seen from the movie Sideways*.) Wine tasting is one of my favorite hobbies in Southern California. I do it as often as I can. Because I have a wine membership, I can drink taste for free and I get a discount on the wine I buy. It’s fantastic, especially considering the bottom-shelf swill I regularly drink.

Many people don’t know how to wine taste. They find it intimidating. Too fancy. What do you say? How do you respond? What are you supposed to do with your hands??!

Here is a numbered list of helpful tips I’ve picked up on my drunken escapades through wine country. They’re sort of in order, but can be used as needed.

  1. Smell the wine
  2. Stir your glass/swirl the wine
  3. Nod agreeably at what the wine pourer says
  4. Admire the wine within the glass. Use words like, “that’s a nice coloring” or “ooh, would you look at that.”
  5. Tap your temple as you take a sip. Everyone will know you’re serious about what you’re tasting. Close your eyes for good measure.
  6. After sipping, tilt your head as if you’re really thinking it over. Then nod and say, “I do get hints of [whatever the wine pourer described the wine as], right on the nose.” To shake things up, you can even say “not quite on the nose” and let your companions fill in the remaining words.
  7. Do not pour out the remaining wine. Drink what you’ve paid for.
  8. Learn how to “revisit.” Once you’ve finished your tasting, point your finger up and say you’d love to revisit the “X” wine. This means you get more wine. Nice wine pourers will let you revisit multiple wines. The best wine pourers go off-menu and get you tipsy.
  9. Tip your wine pourers. It’s good form to buy a bottle, but if you’re poor and there for the tasting, just make sure to tip.
  10. Pick 2-5 tasting rooms and ask the locals for recommendations. Sometimes you get a 2-for-1 tasting card. Expect to slog after your third tasting.

*Pinot – good. Merlot – bad.

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