- observing appearance
- swirling to release bouquet
- smelling to determine aroma
Swirling the wine to aerate it releases the wine's fragrances. This will give the wine taster the opportunity to savour its bouquet and aroma. After you've sufficiently swirled the wine, watch how it adheres to the sides of the glass, creating rivulets or "legs". This will give you an idea of the wine's texture and weight, for example, whether it is full bodied or light.
Smelling, or finding a wine's "nose", is an important part of wine tasting. When smelling wine, take note of its characteristics. Does it smell fresh, mature, bitter, earthy, grapey, nutty, vanilla, fruity? There are hundreds of words to describe a wine's fragrance. Now for tasting, it is important to taste the wine from all areas of your mouth, before swallowing, to get the full range of taste. Tastes to be aware of are: sweetness, fruit and varietal characteristics, acidity (white wines), tannin or astringency (red wine or wood aged white wines), and aftertaste. A high quality wine will have a long, pleasing after-taste or "finish".
After tasting, sit back and savour the sensations. Is the wine light, medium, or full bodied? With white wine, how was its acid balance? With red wine, was the tannin firm, too soft or just right? How long did the after-taste stay with you? Was it pleasing? Do you like this wine and would you have it again? Once you have decided you like a particular wine you may wish to learn more about it. Who produced it? What is unique about this wine? What variety of grape was used in its making? Was it aged in wood or stainless steel tanks? Remember that experience is your best teacher, so the more varieties of wine you have the pleasure of tasting, the closer you are to becoming a connoisseur. But do remember, tasting wine is highly subjective and it is up to you to decide for yourself whether or not the wine is to your taste.
Sulphites have been used in wine-making to prevent oxidation. Oxygen is an enemy to finished wine as it will alter the colour, aroma and flavour of wine over time.
Some sulphite is naturally formed by the yeast in wine-making as a by-product of fermentation.
British Columbia organic standards specifies a limit of 30 parts per million.