How to Taste Wine: The Four Phases for Savoring It at Its Best

Wine tasting begins long before the sip that slides into your mouth: It’s a pleasure that involves all your senses, from the sound of the wine settling at the bottom of the glass, to its fragrance, color, and consistency, and, of course, its flavor.

It is precisely for this reason that wine tasting is divided into four phases, each of which stimulates one of the five senses.

In this article I will advise you how to split your tastings into phases to get the best out of each experience.

What are the four phases for tasting wine at its best?

The first phase is the visual analysis, where you evaluate the clarity, consistency, color, and effervescence of the wine.

This analysis will allow you to identify the maturity of the wine and the production techniques used.

Color is undoubtedly the first element that will catch your attention.

You will quickly understand whether it is a red, a white, or a rosé wine.

Then your observation will focus on clarity, the wine’s ability to let light shine through and the possible presence of impurities or residues.

This phase will end with the most iconic analysis: That of consistency and viscosity, which you can perform by gently swirling the wine in the glass.

This movement, which has become a true symbol of wine tasting, will form arches: The more there are, the more viscous and alcoholic the wine will be.

In this regard, let me leave you with a piece of advice: the glass should be swirled gently, just a couple of turns. The wine should not be stressed and above all, don’t do it with sparkling wine! Some time ago I posted a reel on IG (you can watch it under this link) that can best explain the correct procedure.

The second phase is the olfactory analysis, where you will assess the wine’s fragrance, focusing on intensity, complexity, and quality.

The amount of odorous substances in the wine determines the olfactory intensity based on perceived aromas.

Smell the wine, keeping your nose about 2-3 cm from the glass, trying to pick up fruity, spicy, floral, and mineral notes.

The third phase is the gustatory analysis, or the actual tasting of the wine.

In this phase, you will be able to distinguish the flavors of sweetness, acidity, tannin, and body; recognize the structure and balance of the wine, as well as its ability to evolve over time.

The non-volatile substances, i.e. those that remain in the wine by interacting with the sensors in the oral cavity, are decisive in this phase.

Tasting the wine, you will begin to perceive its consistency, and the first aromas will invade your palate.

But don’t rush: This is only a first impression. As your senses calibrate to the wine you are tasting, the flavours and smells will transform and come like waves. Take your time, return to the tasting several times, the wine changes by being in the glass.

Once accustomed to the wine, you will also perceive the secondary aromas and all those sensations that you did not notice at first taste.

The wine tasting concludes with the fourth phase, the retronasal phase.

In this phase, you will focus on the persistence of taste and aroma of the wine after swallowing it.

This evaluation will help you determine the wine’s longevity and its aging potential.

A Love of Aroma

During the olfactory phase, you can distinguish three types of aromas.

Primary aromas: These are fruity, the predominant ones.

Secondary aromas: These are spicier and woodier aromas. If the wine has undergone malolactic fermentation, these will give the wine hazelnut notes.

Tertiary aromas: These are aromas derived from the aging process. If aging occurs in oak barrels, oxidation will impart coffee or caramel-like aromas to the wine you will taste.

We have seen what the four phases are for tasting wine at its best, but what are the suggestions to fully enjoy this moment?

For this purpose, you can also read the article on tips on how to best enjoy the moment of wine tasting

In addition to being an important process for perceiving organoleptic characteristics and determining its potential, wine tasting is a true sensory experience, a moment of escape from everyday life through which you can experience different emotions.

Treat yourself or someone else to an escape with a wine tasting at Lake Garda.

Book a guided tour of our winery in Lazise and come and savour the colours, scents and aromas of one of the areas with the strongest wine tradition in Italy.