There are many steps to tasting wine properly. Even if you're a total novice, learning the right way to approach a glass of wine will take you far. First, you evaluate the appearance by holding up a shallow glass against the light or a white surface. Then you swirl, which opens up the wine and prepares it for step three: smelling the wine.
When you're tasting wine, smelling it is critical. Aromas prime your brain, and your sense of smell will help you detect the subtle flavors you hear people describing when they rattle off tasting notes. (If you've ever seen the movie Somm, you'll remember the notes of a "freshly opened can of tennis balls.")
After swirling the wine, the right way to smell it is to stick your nose straight into the glass and breathe in with your mouth closed.
It may look silly, but you'll take in a lot more information about the wine this way. You'll also look like a pro, even if you aren't one. Some wine experts advocate for taking a couple quick sniffs, while others recommend inhaling deeply one time. Either way, make sure your nose is in your glass and your mind is open. According to Wine Enthusiast, there are "potentially thousands of aroma components in a glass of good wine," so let go and free associate. Remember the can of tennis balls.
Once you've swirled, sniffed and thought, you're ready for the fun part: drinking.
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