How To Taste Wine in 4 Basic Steps

So, everyone has their methods for tasting wine. Some good and some, not so good…

Well, fear not my friends, just follow these 4 basic guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to wine tasting stardom, or at least a friendlier seat in the tasting room.

1. Color (Look)
2. Nose (Smell)
3. Palate (Taste)
4. Finish (Aftertaste)

Or C.N.P.F as we like to abbreviate it!


A wine’s color can give a good indication of its age and the quality of its winemaking.

How to evaluate color

1. Fill the glass to 1/3 of its capacity
2. Hold the glass up to the light
3. Look at the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass. ps. A white backgrounds helps!

What to look for?

Reds – Young reds are frequently bright berry red, or purple. As reds age the color lightens, from dark purple or crimson red to brick or garnet, eventually becoming a brownish tinge.

Whites – Most dry whites are slightly yellow in color. A young white may exhibit pale-yellow-green hues. As it ages it will become a deeper gold, indicating richness and complexity. Dark shades in white wine indicate maturity.


About 80% of what we taste can be attributed to our sense of smell. In reality, we can only recognize 4 tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) but can smell thousands of scents! Most of a wine’s taste comes from its aroma.

How to evaluate smell

1. Fill the glass to about 1/3 of its capacity
2. Tilt the top of the glass inward (to funnel the aroma)
3. Gently swirl the wine (oxygen encourages the release of aromas)
4. Take a nice whiff. Don’t be afraid to get your nose in there!

What to look for?

Is the aroma intense? Is it faint? Does the scent remind you any foods? Really, there are no hard a fast rules. Just have fun with it! Some common aromas include Earthy, Fruity, Floral, Nutty and Spicy


Generally speaking a wine’s taste should parallel its aroma.

How to evaluate taste

1. Take a small but comfortable amount in your mouth.
2. Make sure the wine is touching every part of your tongue
3. Try to draw in a bit of air, it helps further release the flavor
4. Let is sit in your mouth for at least 10 seconds
5. Make sure you taste the wine at least twice before judging the flavor

What to look for?

How was the texture? (heavy, or light), Can you taste notes of fruit? Oakiness from the wood? Is it flat (low in acid), or harsh? (too much acid), Is it sweet? Dry? Spicy? Plain? Is it astringent, or bitter? Some common tastes include Cherry, Plum, Raspberry and Pear.


A wine’s finish is how long the flavor impression lasts after it is swallowed.

How to evaluate finish

1. Let it sit in your mouth for at least 10 seconds
2. Taste it at least twice
3. Sit back and savor it for at least a minute before judging

Published by Sean Lee

Dad, runner, swimmer, cyclist, wine-lover, entrepreneur, digital enthusiast, vlogger, founder of Oakmonkey

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