Have you ever been in the situation when you needed some extra wine vernacular to impress your date, mate or family and friends when sipping on some fine wine? 

There is a lot to consider when tasting wine, here are some of the key things to look for when you have a glass of wine in your hand next time!

Chances are after reading this you will be able to hold your own when it comes to talking about wine and how to taste it like a pro.

Starting off with;

  1. Intensity

Here is the thing about wine, not everyone gets what you get. Not everyone picks up on the subtleties in wine like you might or might not. Everyone has a different tasting ability, and with time you to can harness the ability of the pros. 

One thing we all get and understand in wine is INTENSITY (same goes for pretty much anything we put in our mouth).

The intensity of wine can be hard to draw a comparison to sometimes without having the ability to compare it to another wine sitting next to it. However, the majority of people when drinking wine can ascertain if the wine has good intensity!

So how do you measure intensity in wine, well it should be intense! And that intensity is picked up on the nose and the feel in the mouth. Simple as that.

  1. Balance

Balance! Picture the balance of wine like a smooth, fresh laid road where there are no potholes, and the speed limit is, well, there is no speed limit. Now as you cruise along at 100KPH and suddenly hit a big pothole that is an imbalance. Yes, it can seem offensive!

That is what balance and wine not in balance can be like. Balance in wine is the art of bringing in all the elements of the wine to sing in harmony as it performs on centre stage a.k.a your tasting experience, including the nose, tongue and mouth.

When one of those elements (fruit, oak, alcohol, tannin, acid etc.) dominate, this is a wine that is lacking balance. Keep in mind that over time wine can become more balanced as it ages gracefully.

  1. Complexity

For me, the complexity to wine is the layers. How many layers and flavour elements does the wine exude. Again, this can be something that not a lot of people can pick up all at once. It takes time and practice to be able to decipher a wine and again what you pick up might not be detectable to the person sitting beside you.

Tasting wine is like our fingerprints; we are all different with what we pick up when tasting.

The layers of the wine are described as how the wine builds in the mouth; it also ties in with the intensity of tasting wines.  Complexity also means the array of flavours coming through in the wine, is the wine singular in its approach or is there a lot going on? Most wine will have a primary flavour and a secondary. It is digging deep using all three senses – nose, taste and touch. I will get to the touch point next.

  1. Texture

The texture is one of my favourite things to asses in wine. How does the wine feel?

We normally associate touch with using our hands, and therefore texture in food and wines can sometimes go underrated. The tongue is more sensitive to texture than the hands. Have you ever noticed how babies would put just about anything in their mouth? Part of this is the textural experience of it all.

The texture of the wine ties in with points 1,2,3 nicely and if the wine is a good one, then the texture of the wine will be pleasing, full and provide a sensory delight.



  1. The Big 3

Sight, Smell and Taste – that is how you would critique a wine using these three senses.

When judging wine, the judge will look at the wine under well-lit conditions and ideally against a white background and give it a score out of three.

The wine should be brilliant, and not have any cloudiness or impurities floating around.

Smelling the wine is a skill in itself, and it takes time to find the perfect way for you. Hold the glass by the stem, give it a good swirl to release the aromatics of the wine and slowly raise toward your nose and mouth. Inhale slowly through the nose and start to work through all the aromas that appear first. Close your eyes and concentrate – do this a couple of times. Also, try with your mouth slightly open.

As humans, we can smell up to 100,000 different smells. Smelling wine is very important to assess its credibility.

When judging a wine on smell, the judge will score the wine out of seven

 Tasting wine in the mouth is a combination of what was mentioned earlier. Now, here is the tricky part – we can only taste four things; they are – Sweet, Salt Sour and Bitter. So how do we taste all these magnificent characteristics in wine?

The magic lies in the olfactory bulb, and it is this bulb that connects the nose and mouth to bring to life the flavours within the wine.

As you push the wine around your mouth opening up the wine, you pick up new and enticing flavours as you go – provided the wine is a good one. Just so happens that The Wine Bunker we are specialists in finding Great Wines.

A judge will score a wine out of 10 for taste, thus giving it a total score out of 20.

  1. Glassware

Yes, time for snobbery to come out! Ok, unashamedly I am somewhat of a pretentious glass snob. It is my wine experience, and I have found that I do enjoy my wine out of quality glassware.

Try this one for yourself. Drink some wine out of a plastic cup and then out of a good quality wine glass and see how you go.



Arthur J Fowler Jan 30, 2019

I totally agree about the glassware (currently drinking out of my Reidel “O to Go” makes a huge difference. Also while I decant wine I found you get more benefit from decanting young wines (to let the air in) rather than old wines (where its more about how to separate the tannins)

Arthur J Fowler Jan 30, 2019

mmmm….. Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache 2016 (I know you like your Grenache David) !!!

Debbie Jan 30, 2019

Good little read David. Full of great information to be reminded about. We sometimes forget these things when your drinking good wine most of the time.

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