There’s nothing quite like enjoying a nice glass of wine—but have you ever taken the time to truly notice the subtleties of what you’re drinking? With this easy guide, I’ll teach you how to swirl, smell, and sip your way to becoming a wine-tasting expert. Get ready to enjoy your dinnertime drink even more or show off at your next wine pairing party!
Grab a GlassWhen choosing your wine glass, look for one with a slightly wider mouth. This helps to better catch the aromas of the wine.
Take a Look
The first thing to notice is the color of your wine. Because different varietals come from different grapes, their tints and hues will be unique. For example, while a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Gris are both white wines, the Sauvignon Blanc will be more vibrant with slight undertones of green while the Pinot Gris will be more subdued by comparison.
If you’re drinking a red wine, you might examine the wine’s tannins. Tannins come from the skin of the grapes and will affect how dark and opaque a wine is. Rosé wines also have tannins, but to a lesser extent—which is what makes their color more pink than red.
Give It a SwirlAfter you’ve poured your glass, take a moment to swirl the wine around inside. This will give each flavor the opportunity to rise to the surface. Breathe in the aromas and see what notes you can pick out—common ones include fruit, flowers, spices, herbs, and oak. As you notice each new scent, you might also think about the quality associated with it. For example, if you smell fruit, does that fruit seem underripe? Overripe?
With Harry & David’s Sauvignon Blanc, you might notice notes of lemon-lime zest that err on the side of underripe. You might also catch a hint of freshly cut grass, which is a common marker of Sauvignon Blanc wines.
Take a Taste
After a few swirls and sniffs, you get to the fun part—the wine tasting! Take it slow and allow yourself a moment to swirl the wine around in your mouth after your first sip. This will coat all the parts of your mouth with the wine so you can fully taste every part of it. At this point, you might notice sweetness lingering at the tip of your tongue, or an overall acidity that will make your mouth water. Acidity is common in Oregon wines because of their colder climate. This is also a great opportunity to compare the flavors you taste to the ones you smelled. Does anything new stand out? Is anything more obvious or defined?
How heavy does the wine feel as it’s in your mouth? This is what experts refer to as the body; a full-bodied wine will feel as if it has a bigger presence. Harry & David’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a good example of this. It features a complex flavor profile that starts with plum and blackberry and continues with notes of tobacco, cedar, and dusted cocoa.
The last thing you might notice about your wine is the finish, which is how long the flavor lingers in your mouth after you’ve taken a sip.
The Perfect Pairing
Really appreciating the flavor of each unique wine will help you when choosing varietals for pairings. Some things just go better together! For example, I recommend Pinot Gris with light meats like chicken or white fish, but Cabernet Sauvignon will shine brightest alongside lamb shanks or rib-eyes. Once you’ve put together the perfect meal and the bottle of wine to complement it, all you’ve got left to do is sit back and enjoy.
In our series From the Orchards, we’re taking you behind the scenes of our amazing Harry & David products and the people who help make them happen. Learn fun facts about pear harvest, hear our bakers’ inside tips, and learn some fun facts about wine from our resident sommelier.