How to Do Wine Tasting (Without Looking Like a Douche)

wine tasting with food
Who knew these foods paired so well with wine?

Obviously, I’m not an expert in anything oenophile related. Hooch, swill and plonk, yes. But fine wines? Well, let’s just say I’m a life long learner who doesn’t mind studying.

After recently spending a week along the wine trail of the Okanagan Valley, I was able to pick up a few tips from the pro’s. When faced with several wine flights in wine country, it’s all about pacing yourself. And moderation. Two things that aren’t my forte. Nevertheless, here are some suggestions you might find handy if you ever go wine tasting.

Food for wine tasting
These are some of the best nibbles when wine tasting.

Best food to pair with wine when tasting

Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, not guzzled down in great gulps (whoops). Be sure to have a variety of little nibbles to accompany your tasting. Some suggestions include:

  • Popcorn: plain, buttered or topped with a flavoured olive oil (truffle is quite nice)
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Cured meats
  • Dark chocolate
Wine Tasting Notes
As you can see, wine tasting is serious business:)

How to evaluate wine

Now onto the tricky part, how to judge the wines. There’s three main points to take into consideration.

1. Appearance: Take a look at your glass. Go ahead and hold it up to the light, Check out its colour, clarity and depth.

2. Nose: Swirl the wine around in your glass, but not too vigorously, you know. The exception to this is if you’re tasting sparkling wine. You don’t want to blow the bubbles off or else it’ll quickly go flat. Next, take a big whiff and consider the scent. Is it intense or weak? Can you pick up any fruit characteristics?

3. Palate: Now comes the best part – tasting. You don’t have to get all, “I’m picking up hints of tobacco,” just close your eyes, and think about what you’re tasting. Is it sweet? Boozy? Slightly acidic? Do you notice any fruits or earthy tones?

After your first sniff, swirl, sip

You did all the things. You threw it back. So what did you think? Did it taste balanced? Mature? What’s your personal take on what you just sampled?

Now try a bite of food and taste the wine again. I bet you’ll find some differences this time around.

woman wine tasting
So many glasses, so little time.

Wine tasting at Sumac Ridge

I learned all these tips from my tasting experience at Sumac Ridge. Sumac is one of the pioneers one of the wine business in the Okanagan as they were one of the first estate wineries. They also produced the first vintages of sparkling wine in the region. Some execs from Veuve Clicquot  recently popped in for a tasting. Rumour has it they were particularly pleased Steller’s Jay Sparkling Pinnacle ($35) was not available for export. We’re keeping all that goodness for ourselves, thank you very much.

Have you ever gone wine tasting at a vineyard? I’ve only ever done it in Canada, but if I were in the U.S., I’d definitely want to hip up the Napa Region and specifically Silver Trident Winery – furnished by Ralph Lauren home!

Where are your favourite tasting rooms?

About The Author

11 thoughts on “How to Do Wine Tasting (Without Looking Like a Douche)”

  1. Jess @UsedYorkCity

    Love this! I recently went to one in NYC, and was severely lacking in that whole “moderation” part;-) But such a great way to discover what tastes you really enjoy in wine and the ones that are just so-so to your palette!

  2. Lesli Peterson

    You crack me up. seriously. Recently did a north Georgia wine tour and really enjoyed it. Most people don’t think of wine and Georgia, but it was rather lovely. The mead was my favorite.
    Thx for this article – bookmarked for the next tasting 🙂

    1. Wow, Georgia? Who da thunk it? So pleased you like the piece and took the time to comment. Much appreciated. Cheers!

  3. Looks like you had a lovely time! Great tips and I love that they are realistic and not at all snooty. 🙂

  4. Thanks, guys. I never know what I’m doing in those situations, so thought I’d pass along the wee bit of info I picked up. Really pleased you found it useful.

  5. Heather (@HomeToHeather)

    Love wine tastings! I haven’t been through the BC tours yet but I will get there. Glad you enjoyed yourself!

  6. Melissa | Family Fun Canada

    I’ve been to one wine tasting and I was pregnant so I just did a sniff test. Will have to go again one of these days. Thanks for the great tips!

  7. Robin | Farewell, Stranger

    I am so not a wine drinker but if I were I would really need this help! 😉

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