Practice Makes Perfect

The only way to develop a good palate and a consistent, effective tasting process is through practice. Every time I taste, whether just for pleasure, or more seriously during organized wine tasting, I use the time to run through my process and add data to my memory bank. Also, I’m never far from a pad of paper to jot down some notes about the wine. Even if it is only to note a few highlights, or lowlights, I always try to examine and assess the following with a series of questions: appearancearomaflavor.


  • What color is the wine?
  • How deeply pigmented is the base hue?
  • Is the disc of the wine clear, or slightly colored?
  • Is the wine itself clear or cloudy?
  • Does the light reflect off the wine?


  • What does the wine smell like?
  • Are there any “off odors?” Do they persist, or do they seem to “blow off?”
  • How full and lively is the nose?
  • Does the nose smell more like fruit or flowers?
  • How much spice is in the wine?
  • Does the wine smell like the varietal from which it’s made?


  • How “heavy” is the wine?
  • Does the wine have a lot of tannin?
  • Do the tannins block out any other flavors in the wine?
  • Does the wine taste acidic?
  • Is the wine sweet? Bone dry?
  • Are there “off flavors” on the palate?
  • Is the wine smooth? Rough?
  • How long does the aftertaste last?
  • Is the aftertaste complex? Does it evolve?

Remember, above all, wine tasting should be fun! I include the above tips for those seeking guidance about developing, or refining the wine tasting process. As I said at the beginning, wine tasting is all about getting out what you put into the exercise.

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