Lords of the Drinks

An Introduction to Wine Tasting Starts with the 6 S’s


To start to understand the art of wine tasting one starts with the 6 S’s. That’s see, swirl, sniff, sip, swish and swallow or spit. Obviously these Lords of the Drinks prefer the first option.

We are proud to present another guest post by Hazel Morgan, who you might remember of her previous guest appearance on Lords of the Drinks. A while ago she explained why men who drink whiskey  make the best lovers. In this post she switched drinks and turned to wine, giving us all an introduction to the noble art of wine tasting. Below this post is a short autobiography of the author, and from our side we would like to thank Hazel for choosing this platform to expose her writing talent and for making our website look just a bit more sophisticated. Now fill up the wine glasses and let’s get started.


A smooth swirl and sip and the divine taste of wine embraces the walls of your mouth, and then your throat and an unmatchable feeling clouds you. Wine is a symbol of elegance and wine tasting is our chance to appreciate this delightful art. Which is better white vs red wine is always a debate in terms of taste as well as benefits. Why not just taste them both to find out? In fact, this cherished beverage that has been around for centuries had the love for wine instilled in many through wine tasting that has now penetrated its way into various culture and tradition. Wine tasting might sound like a simple step of taking a sip and swallowing it. But it requires keen attention to the various flavors that settle while you enjoy the experience. Each wine is unique and complex flavored in its own way and with a little practice, you can master the art of wine tasting. There are a few components that are essential to have the best wine tasting experience. To make it easy they can be remembered as the 6 S’s of wine tasting.

1. See – The looks
Physical characteristics may not always be the right judge of food. But the looks of wine have a lot to say about it. The true magic of its texture and body comes from observing the poetic shades of plum, purple, pale or red. This step requires just 5 seconds of your time. Take a glass and fill about 1/3rd of it with your wine. Tilt the glass to about a 45-degree angle and observe it under a soft background preferably white. Try to understand the shade of it, the viscosity and opacity.
Whether you see a light shade of red with a tint of magentas like in case of Pinot Noir or a little buttery chardonnay that is garnet colored which is creamy yellow, this color is an important component. Also, pay attention to the bottle which gives away the clues about the origin, vintage and grape variety to understand your wine better.

2. Swirl – The moves:
This is an essential part to let the wine breathe. If you are a beginner it is suggested that you use a flat surface to swirl instead of freestyle swirling. Hold the glass on the table and use swift circular motions 3-5 times. Now observe the type of wine formation on the sides of the walls, “legs” or “tears”. It is observed that wines that have good legs usually have higher alcohol as well as glycerine content. This is also an indication of the ripeness, density and whether it will give a mouth-filling feeling.

3. Sniff – The Smell:
The taste and flavor of your drink can be recognized from a sniff. The guide to evaluating what you smell is tricky. It will be a hard start if you simply try to fix into recognizing the exact note. Instead start big and try to categorize as citrus, orchards, red, blue and black fruits, tropical fruits in whites or reds etc. Once you get closer to it then you can analyze the particular note.
The flavors you will feel can be categorized as primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. The primary aroma will give you the instance of the grape derivative, its contents such as herbs, floral, fruits etc. The secondary aromas relate to the winemaking process. In tertiary, you understand the aging. This is mostly related to savory such as baking spices, cured leather, cedar and more.
Place your nose inside the neck of the glass and take a deep sniff. A variety such as Chardonnay has hints of a soft blend of aromas such as tropical fruit, lemon, and vanilla. Similarly, Cabernet has a smell of plums and blackberries with a hint of vanilla.

4. Sip – The taste:
Well, there is no better judge of wine than its taste. But the most important thing to remember is not to gulp it down. Letting the wine enjoy some time in your mouth and sipping it little by little along with the aroma is the best way to taste the flavors of the wine. Keeping it long enough to understand how long it takes to fully drench you with its taste is very important. The texture has a major contribution to the wine choice as the ones which are riper and have higher alcohol content are thicker.

5. Swish – The embracing:
Swishing the wine around will help you understand the various flavors as it hits your taste buds. This way you don’t skip the different taste zones of your tongue and let each one evaluate it properly.

6. Swallow or Spit – The finale:
Once you have understood your wine well you can choose to swallow or spit. It is preferable to spit especially if you have a long list of options to taste to be able to evaluate better as well as to have your alcohol intake under control.

The perfect wine balances the various flavors and aromas and the symphony of them is beautiful. The trick to developing a good taste palette is to feel more than think and let your senses be the judge.

Hazel Morgan

Biography author:
Hazel is a certified whiskey and wine geek and is associated with Find Rare Whisky She inherited the passion for whiskey and wine from her family. She loves blogging, writing, reading, learning and teaching, about whiskey and wine. She has been in the whiskey world for about 3 years and tries to share her knowledge about wine and whiskey in a way to encourage and inspire new drinkers.