Wine Tasting Tips


There is nothing difficult about enjoying wine.

The next step though, is understanding and describing why we prefer some wines to others. We can learn how to discern differences in wine and recognize quality by concentrating on the tasting sequence (sight, smell and taste). Since we rely on our senses for information, the tasting sequence is properly called a sensory examination.

Appreciating wine requires that we sharpen our senses and learn to focus our attention on the many messages we receive from each glass of wine. This evaluation is easy to follow and with practice enables us to objectively assess wines and talk about wine to others.


Observe the details of the colour of the wine.

Tip the glass until the wine inside approaches the rim of the glass. All wines should be clear and bright with no cloudiness present. As wine is constantly changing, the colour is an indication of its age.


No two wines will look or smell alike.

One of the most complex and distinctive aspects of a wine is its aroma. Bring the glass up to your nose and inhale. Try to evaluate the nature of the odour. Next, swirl the wine. This helps release the volatile, aromatic constituents. Smell the wine again and try to be as precise as possible in describing the odour.

The wine should smell like the grape variety from which it is derived and contain no off-odours. Any wine smelling of cabbage, vinegar, sulphur or other foreign smells should be regarded as suspect. A quality wine will have a rich, multi-faceted smell that is harmonious and pleasant to the senses.


This is the final stage of our evaluation and complements the previous two.

Take enough wine into your mouth to coat all its surfaces and that of your tongue. Swirl or "chew" the wine and then spit it out. Concentrate on the taste characteristics that were detected.

Was it dry or sweet?

Was there sufficient acidity?

What was the "weight" or body of the wine?

Was there any tannin?

How much alcohol was present?

Was the tactile sense pleasant?

Were the flavours agreeable?

Are the component parts harmonious (in balance)?

Does the flavour linger in the mouth?

What potential does the wine have?

Only by careful examination and evaluation are we able, not only to enjoy wine, but also to understand why we enjoy it and to communicate this enjoyment to others.


Here are a few tips from the people "in the trade" whose business it is to attend wine shows.

Prepare ahead

This refers not only to making sure that you have alternate transportation available at the end of the evening, but also that you are not beginning your evening on an empty stomach. Though experts might say your senses are heightened when you are hungry, after a long day some food will help keep your energy level up and temper the effects of consuming alcohol.

Remember – the Wine Festival will focus on the wines (pours are less than 1oz.) Food will not be available on the tasting floor, however, The Winnipeg Convention Centre will operate a "Bistro" should you wish to enjoy some repast during the Festival.

Plan your attack

As you enter the show pick up your tasting glass and catalogue and take a few minutes to survey the room and organise your route. Given there will be a huge number of wines to sample and limited time, it is extremely useful to decide where you want to go first. It may be Champagnes first and dessert wines at the end. Or perhaps specific grape varieties such as sauvignon blanc or shiraz might be the target before moving on to other things.

Whatever the plan, bring a pen and note the wines you have tasted, particularly the ones you like in case you want to purchase them at the on-site Liquor Mart.

Spitting is OK

In fact spitting the wine after tasting is an essential part of the process for those who wish to maintain any objectivity during the course of the evening. Look for buckets or strategically placed receptacles into which, like the pros, you can spit the wine after swishing it around in your mouth.


Each winery at the show will have experts behind their table.

Feel free to ask questions or discuss your views about the wines that you taste.


The tasting area is likely to be quite crowded, especially around the most popular wines.

Once your sample has been poured for you, and if you are not engaged in discussion with those pouring, let someone else in to try the wine. This will ease both potential congestion and irritability.


After all is said and done you are the only expert when it comes to pleasing your palate.

The best way to learn more about your own likes and dislikes is to try different wines and trust your own judgement.

The best thing about a wine show is that it presents an ideal opportunity to try as many different wines as possible in a relatively short time.



© 2017 Winnipeg Wine Festival