Now that you have read the basics of wine tasting, let’s dig deeper into the four major steps.

While Michael Scott may have it down when it comes to identifying wine, giving the wine a visual examination is the first step in tasting. Many wine experts will suggest holding the wine over a white background to get the best look at it.

What To Look For

There are three main things to evaluate when looking at a wine – the color/shade, the intensity of the color and the viscosity.

COLOR

The first color identification is pretty simple – red, white or rosé. After that brain buster, take a closer look and try to pinpoint a more exact color. The color of the wine can start to tell you about its age, grape variety, acidity or winemaking technique.

White wines can range from a pale straw color to a medium gold to a deep amber. Rosé wine can have a wide range of colors as well, being a light copper or salmon, or a bright and deep pink. And finally, red wines can be anywhere from a pale ruby, to a medium purple to a deep maroon.

INTENSITY

The deeper the hue of a white generally means it is older or has been aged in oak. White wines that are aged in oak barrels will be richer and darker in color compared to a white wine that doesn’t see any oak. Imagine what a glass of oaked Chardonnay looks like compared to a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The Chardonnay will have more a rich gold hue, where the Sauvignon Blanc will be more bright yellow.

Intensity also varies in rosé and red wine. The longer these wines are kept in contact with the grapes skin, the darker the color will be.

VISCOSITY

Now that you’ve examined the color and intensity, swirl the wine around your glass and watch how it moves. Does it swirl around quickly? Or does it have a thicker, syrup-like quality to it? Are there legs that form and fall down around the sides of the glass?

Wines that are higher in alcohol will have more legs that form along the sides. And sweeter wines will have very slow moving legs, since the wine will be more viscous.

The visual clues you get from looking at your glass will begin to tell you the story. Wines that appear light and bright will tend to taste light and bright. Wines that are deep and rich in color tend to be deep and rich in flavor and texture.

So next time you are sipping on that wonderful Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, take some time to look before you drink.