Take your wine drinking to a whole new level with these tasting tips.
Step 1: Use a blindfold Conduct blind tastings. Judging a wine without knowing details like the vintage, grape variety, country of origin, producer, and price is a great way to develop your palate because you won't be swayed by outside influences.
Step 2: Use the correct glass Use the correct glass. White wine should be served in a glass with a medium-diameter bowl to concentrate its aroma; red requires a wider bowl so that as much air can mix with the wine as possible. A sparkling wine should be served in a tall, narrow glass to allow the bubbles to rise to the top.
Step 3: Make sure it's the proper temperature Make sure it's the proper temperature. Contrary to popular belief, reds should not be room temperature, but "cellar" temperature, which is about 55 degrees. And whites should not be colder than 45 degrees.
Step 4: Know your flavors Taste every fruit, spice, and herb you can. That way, you'll be able to discern the various flavors in the wines you sample.
Step 5: Take your time Use your senses. As you swirl the wineglass, look at the wine's color. Notice how it coats the glass. Sniff its bouquet, or scent; try to identify the different aromas. Now take a sip and feel its texture and weight as it glides over your tongue. Suck in a bit of air before you swallow, to further aerate and appreciate the wine.
TIP: If you're planning to enjoy several wines, start with the light, dry wines and end with the heaviest, sweetest ones.
Step 6: Complement the food Choose wine that complements the food. If you're eating a regional specialty, try to pair it with a wine from that area. If you're having a meal with a lot of different flavors, choose a simpler wine, and vice versa.
TIP: When possible, add a splash of the wine you're serving with a meal to the dish you'll be eating.
Step 7: Don't be intimidated Don't let wine intimidate you. You don't need special expertise or expensive vintages to appreciate wine -- all you need are your taste buds.
FACT: The world's oldest bottle of wine, from about 300 C.E., is displayed in a museum in Speyer, Germany.