Tag Archives: wine tasting techniques

Why Swirl the Wine? And, I’m Still Here

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, this re-run of a golden oldie post is old news (I hope. Or maybe a refresher course isn’t such a bad idea.)

You also know that I don’t usually talk about personal things. But, the thing is that my blog posts have been a little spotty lately and I don’t want you to think I don’t care or have gotten lazy.

First, I want to thank you for reading – especially my subscribers. I put my heart and soul into my work and it makes my day when you take the time to comment or even just click “like.” 

My husband is seriously ill and that has been the absolute priority over the last few weeks and will probably continue to be over the next few. I believe he will come out of this okay. Please keep your fingers crossed.

The second priority is to keep the money flowing in so we can pay our bills, so when I’m not at the hospital I’m writing for my winery clients. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this info.

But, I’m still here. I’ll write new stuff when I can and try to keep those weekly videos up but I may go quiet for awhile or post another re-run here and there.

That said, here’s the actual post. I chose this one because it’s one of the most common questions of all. Thank you, again. Nancy

Why Swirl the Wine?

After Jim wrote, saying what a lot of people are afraid to say – that wine just smells like wine to him and he doesn’t often notice aromas like strawberry or spice –  I promised some wine-tasting lessons. It will help if you have a couple of tasting techniques under your belt first, so here we go with swirling.

With all the fru-fru associated with wine, you might wonder whether swirling is practical or pretentious. It’s not only fun – it’s very practical. I like to think of it as getting more for my money. The best way to find out why it’s smart to swirl your wine is to do an experiment. Get yourself a glass of wine. It shouldn’t be too cold – cold wine isn’t expressive, so if you’ve pulled the wine out of the fridge give it a 1/2 hour, or so, to warm up a bit.

Don’t fill your glass more than 1/3 – 1/2 full or you’ll end up wearing the wine (I wear wine on a daily basis – I’ve come to think of it as perfume). Put your nose in the glass and take a good whiff. Hope it smells good! Continue reading

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Five Key Wine Components and How to Detect Them


I’m very excited because I’ve just had this article published on Snooth – the world’s largest online wine destination! http://www.snooth.com/articles/five-key-wine-components-and-how-to-detect-them/

If you haven’t checked out Snooth before, you really should. They’ve got tons of great wine education, plus ratings, plus a very active forum and more. I’ve been following since they got started in 2007 and it just gets better and better. Cheers!

For a free email subscription go to home page, right column


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Today’s Wine Word: Wine Aroma Wheel


Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when you smell something in the wine, and you know that you know what it is, but you can’t come up with the word? Wine Aroma Wheel to the rescue!

This is one of my all-time favorite tools. I actually had this wheel blown up into poster size to teach wine-tasting classes. 

The purpose of the wheel is to give us common language to describe wine. Rather than saying something esoteric like “This wine reminds me of a warm afternoon on the Champs Elysées.” – what the heck does that mean? – the terms are things we can all relate to. Like strawberries or licorice for instance. 

There’s a guide on the aroma wheel website that give you detailed instructions of how to use it. But, the big picture, as I see it, is that the wheel asks you questions that lead you to be specific in your in your description. In the center of the wheel you see the most general description, like “fruity” or “floral”. Say you think the wine smells fruity. As you work your way out, the wheel says “Okay – if the wine is fruity is it like citrus fruit? Or berries? Or dried fruit? What do you think?” If you select berries it goes on to ask if the wine is more like strawberries or blackberries. If you think it’s citrusy is it more like lemon or orange?  Continue reading


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How to Taste: Swooshing the Wine

In anticipation of some nuts and bolts tasting lessons I thought it would be smart to go over a couple of basic techniques, so in my last post we took care of swirling. Now, on to swooshing, AKA permission to display bad table manners. For this, you’ll need a glass of white wine that isn’t too cold. If the wine’s too cold you can’t smell anything and the cold shocks your tongue so the flavors don’t register.

OK, first take a sip and down the hatch. Hope it tastes great! Now, take another small sip (if you take in too much you might choke), purse your lips and pull a little air in, through your teeth over the top of the wine. It’s kind of like whistling in reverse. Next, swoosh the wine all over your mouth like mouth wash and chew on it a bit, as if it’s food. Go ahead – give it a try!

Difference? Wow! The wine fills your whole head, no? It has so much more flavor! Continue reading

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