Have you ever wondered why you see people swirling and smelling their glass of wine? There’s a reason for that. There are 5 S’s in wine. And no, I’m not talking about the way it’s spelled. When evaluating wine, there are 5 things you should keep in mind. Each step is crucial to evaluating your wine. The 5 steps are sight, swirl, smell, sip, and savor. Let’s break down each area, shall we?
- SIGHT- Before you do anything, begin by observing the color of your wine. To properly do so, tilt your wine to a 45-degree angle. Take your hand and place it against the outside of your wine glass. Doing this will allow you to gauge the color and clarity of the wine. Is it clear, hazy, opaque? For reds, is it a ruby red, purple, garnet, or brick? For whites, is it yellow, gold, or brown? All these clues will help you understand much of the wine. For example, the wine’s age, types of grapes used, etc.
- SWIRL- After taking a look at the wine’s color, give your glass a good swirl. Hint: It’s all in the wrist. Swirling your glass will help create an oxidizing effect that will enhance the aromas. From swirling, take a closer look at the side of your wine glass. Doing so will help you figure out the viscosity of the wine. Does the wine leave streaks, also known as “tears”, running down the side of the glass? The more apparent the tears, the thicker the wine is.
- SMELL- After swirling, use your sense of smell to help analyze the wine. Stick your nose in the glass and sniff away. What do you smell? Oak? Flowers? Possibly some fruit? The intensity of the aromas can also hint the wine’s age assessment. Is it youthful, developing, or mature?
- SIP- Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, take a sip and taste. Similar to smell, what do you taste? Oak? Flowers? Possibly some fruit? Take into consideration the “finish” after sipping the wine. It can have a short, medium, or long finish.
- SAVOR (or spit)- The “finish” is the sensation you get after swallowing the wine. The longer the taste stays could mean it is a higher quality wine. Also, keep a lookout for the burning sensation after swallowing the wine. If there is a burning sensation, that means there is a higher alcohol content. Sometimes a higher alcohol content hints that the wine is from the new world.
*Side note: If you’re going to have one, maybe two glasses of wine, your process of evaluation could end with swallowing each sip of wine. However, if you’re doing a wine tasting, or a flight of multiple wines, it would be best to spit after the sip—unless you want to be intoxicated. But at that point, all drinks start to taste the same which would defeat the purpose of evaluating your glass of wine.