1. LOOK, 2. SMELL, 3. TASTE
- LOOK: Look at the wine. Is it clear, brilliant, cloudy, or dull? Notice the depth of color. Common color descriptions are: Lemon, Gold, Garnet, Ruby, Red, and Purple.
- SMELL: Smell the wine and notice the aroma. Swirl the glass (carefully) and smell the wine again. Is it neutral, clean, attractive, outstanding, or is it acetic, oxidized, yeasty, or corky? Is there a fruit aroma? Can you recognize the fruit of the specific grape varietal you are sampling? Is there a bouquet (none, pleasant, complex, powerful)?
- TASTE: Now you are ready to taste. Remember 80% of tasting is done with your nose. You must have air in the wine. Swish the wine around in your mouth, letting it touch your entire oral cavity. The more air the better you can taste.
Sweetness is on the tip of your tongue from dry to extremely sweet.
Tannins or Tannic Acid (in red wines) is astringent, hard, dry or soft. You can feel the astringency along the sides of your tongue inside your cheeks.
Acidity can be flat, refreshing, or tart; it can be felt on the sides of your tongue. High acid can be felt on your gums and teeth. A lack of acid is referred to as flabby.
Body can be very light and thin, light, medium, full-bodied, or heavy. This includes viscosity (thickness).
Bitterness is found on the top rear of your tongue.
Alcohol is the burning sensation in your mouth and throat. Too high an alcohol concentration presents a “hot” taste.
Length or finish can be short, acceptable, extended, or lingering.
Balance refers to the complete harmony in the principal components of the wine. A wine can be unbalanced, good, very-well, or excellently balanced.
Now determine the overall quality based on your own impression. You are the best judge of whether or not you enjoy a wine.