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Just Bought a New Bottle of Wine? Follow These 5 Steps When Tasting It for the First Time

Here's how to swill vino like a pro.


Sipping on a glass of wine is the ultimate “me-time” activity — and the indulgence isn’t merely luxurious. Enjoying a tipple also has benefits for eye health, and can even lower your risk of diabetes. But rather than sticking to your favorite red or white, how about you try something different next time? The world of wine is your oyster. If you’re not sure what to look or taste for when trying a new selection, you can learn the five S’s — a clever guide for tasting wine like a pro. Keep reading for the five steps guaranteed to make sipping vino (and determining whether a new brand suits your refined palate) more simple and enjoyable. 

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro Using the 5 S’s

Ever noticed a wine connoisseur swirling the glass or inhaling the wine’s aroma before taking a sip? That’s because they’re using the five S’s (see, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor) to better understand the wine’s unique qualities. Your natural senses can tell you a lot about a wine — such as its freshness or richness — prior to drinking it. So, nailing the five S’s is a great way to figure out whether the bottle has earned a permanent spot on your wine rack. 

Here’s a simple breakdown of the five S’s from the Stuart Cellars website, which you should follow in order for best results.

  1. See: The first thing you observe after pouring wine is its consistency and color. A wine’s color is an indication of its “body,” or richness and heaviness of flavor. Generally, deeper-colored wines will be fuller-bodied than lighter ones, and holding the glass of wine against a white background allows you to see the wine’s hue more clearly. The wine’s texture is equally important, because there’s often what is called a “mouthfeel” as you’re sipping it. Red wines usually have more apparent textures compared to other wines, ranging from silky to sticky, due to the presence of compounds called tannins.
  2. Swirl: Wine contains a complex mixture of water, acids, sugars, and compounds. These elements become concentrated when the wine is bottled. Swirling the wine will evenly distribute these elements and aerates it to “wake up” the flavors and aromas. A five to 10-second swirl is enough to provide this effect, but don’t overdo it. Otherwise, you’re wasting energy — since excess swirling doesn’t make the wine taste better (and it might make you look a little silly). 
  3. Sniff: Inhaling the wine’s aromas gives you a preview of its flavor notes before drinking. After swirling the wine, place the glass close to your nose, and take a whiff. You’ll likely detect the fruity, floral, earthy, or buttery aromas listed on the wine’s label. If the wine’s past its prime, the scent will resemble wet cardboard or dirty gym socks. (Yuck!) So, the nose truly knows if your wine choice is worth a sip.
  4. Sip: Now, for the moment of truth: It’s time to sip the wine. A common beginner’s mistake is swallowing a large amount of wine quickly, which prevents you from tasting the nuanced flavors. Taking slow and small sips makes it easier to identify the wine’s flavor notes. Plus, it helps develop your palate over time, so you can differentiate between the complex tastes of various wine types. 
  5. Savor: Once you’ve taken a sip, let the wine linger on your tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. Giving wine a moment to sit on your taste buds ensures that you’re experiencing its full flavor. Also, it’s a great opportunity to slow down and savor a moment of calm, just you and your trusty glass of wine.

The World of Wine

As you can see, it’s possible to have an unforgettable wine tasting experience — whether you’re at a Napa vineyard or swilling at home. Plus, trying an unfamiliar wine will transform this self-care ritual into a chance to step outside of your comfort zone. (That’s definitely worth raising a glass to.) Sipping wine in moderation is enjoyable, but there’s always potential for a next-day hangover if you accidentally indulge too much. To avoid such a mistake, try this purifying wand that removes hangover-inducing histamines and sulfites from the booze — talk about wine-tastic magic!

Looking for the ultimate dish to enjoy with your wine selection? Try this recipe for steak and fries, better known as steak frites!

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