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Sip Like a Sommelier: The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting


Sip Like a Sommelier: The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting

Posted by Dawn in On the Vine Newsletter

If you’re passionate about wine, you’ve probably daydreamed about a career as a sommelier. Even though it takes extensive education and training to achieve sommelier status, you can experience what it’s like to be one for a day with a simple 5-step process called “The 5 S’s.” The 5 S’s stand for see, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor, and are outlined below. Follow along next time at one of our CT winery events or one of the tasting tours we offer!


The first of the 5 S’s of wine tasting requires you to take some time to actually observe what’s in your wine glass. In a well-lit room, examine your wine against a light-colored or white background. Is the wine clear or cloudy, bright or dull? Is the color deep or light? These are indicators of how the wine was aged, what grapes were used in its creation, and how it tastes. In general, darker wines have more intense flavors since color saturation increases as wine ages. This is why white wine usually tends to taste sweeter and milder than red wine.


The next of the 5 S’s of wine tasting is swirling! Before you put the glass up to your nose to inhale the scent of the wine, give it a vigorous swirl to observe the wine’s texture and viscosity. Sweeter wine might display what’s called legs (thick streaks running along the side of the glass) as it is swirled, while heavier wines might move more slowly or leave different patterns on the glass. Swirling can also aerate the wine, exposing it to subtly different flavors that open up its profile.


Sniffing is one of the truly essential parts of the 5 S’s of wine tasting. When you sniff wine, you aren’t just seeing if you’ll like the taste. You’re experiencing an essential part of the aromatic profile of the wine. The combination of smell and taste is called the bouquet of the wine and is the most important part of wine tasting for many sommeliers. Taking the extra time to sniff can give you an idea of how the wine was made, what herbs or spices might be involved, or what grape variety is in your glass.


The one step among the 5 S’s of wine tasting you probably expected is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to sip! Don’t just gulp down the wine, though; this is a step that needs as much care and consideration as the steps before it. Expert sommeliers hold the wine in their mouths to taste it for 3-5 seconds, letting the flavor profile linger on their tongues. Compare the wine to others you’ve tried, or try to identify tastes or scents you find familiar or unfamiliar. 


The sensation you get from swallowing the wine, along with the resulting aftertaste, is called the finish. The sensation can often be very different from the taste or smell of the wine. In order to identify truly excellent wines, sommeliers look for lingering flavor profiles. You can also use a wine’s finish to evaluate the balance of the bottle. Did you taste one note or element stronger than the rest, or were the tastes more unified? A well-balanced wine doesn’t have one specific note dominating the others and should go down smoothly.

Are you ready to practice your sommelier skills? Schedule a tasting tour with Jonathan Edwards Winery today! Already have a favorite? Check out our wine subscription club options to learn how you can get your favorites delivered to you multiple times a year.

06 Jan 2022 no comments



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