Helen's guide to tasting wine

If you want to take your wine tasting to the next level and open your taste buds up to a world of new flavours, take a look at Helen's advice. She's our wine expert and blogger. You’ll be able to tell your Merlot from your Malbec in no time!

How do we taste wine?

Don’t pour too much into each glass otherwise you’ll throw it over the person next to you when you go to swirl it (more on that in a moment). About quarter full, no more than a third or it’ll get messy.


Before you lift the glass to your lips, take a good look at what’s inside. For white wine, the darker it is the older it might be. For red, it’s the other way round, with brick-coloured reds usually older than inky-black ones.


Your sense of smell is far more powerful than your sense of taste. So sipping without sniffing means you won’t get as much out of the wine as you would by shoving your nose in the glass first. By doing this, the hundreds of receptors in your nose send messages back to the brain to tell you what you’re smelling, be it citrus, black fruits, red fruits, spice, oak or whatever else you might find in there. Give the wine a swirl to release the aromas, then take a good long sniff.


Take a small sip of wine and swill it gently around the mouth, preferably pulling in a little bit of air at the same time. Purse your lips, suck in air through a tiny hole and gently swill the wine around your mouth. Coat the tongue and gums and let your taste buds (you’ve got thousands of them) get stuck in. Think about the fruit flavours, the zip (aka acidity, especially in white wine), the grip (tannins, especially in red wine), oomph (the body), balance and structure of the wine. Of course, you don’t have to think about any of those things at all, just decide whether you like it or not. But taking time to taste a wine properly makes a big difference to how you’ll remember it.