How to Distinguish Wine Notes

Detecting Wine Notes through Taste

We've discussed that smelling wine is probably the best way to detect notes, but that doesn't mean that tasting the wine isn't important as well. After all, you're meant to drink it. Most of our taste comes from smelling, but you can learn certain things about wine -- whether it's sweet, sour or bitter -- from taste [source: Learn Vino]. No matter how familiar you get with detecting notes and understanding the complexities of wine, in the end it's created to be consumed and enjoyed.

To best detect the wine's characteristics, you need to understand the proper technique for tasting. It's not as simple as taking a sip and swallowing. This is the stage where you actually make contact with the wine -- first by detecting the aroma or bouquet and then by discovering the texture and flavors [source: Kelley Cellars].

Many suggest that you start with a small sip to awaken your senses and taste buds. Commonly, you would then take a larger sip and hold it in your mouth for anywhere from five to 15 seconds, if not longer. During this time, breath in some air and move the wine around your mouth, letting it touch every surface. Concentrate on what's happening and what you feel. Some wines will make your mouth feel dry, some will immediately taste sweet or bitter. These qualities are easy to recognize and will point you toward certain areas on the aroma wheel [sources: Learn Vino, Kelley Cellars, Schneider].

You could use the same procedure Noble suggests (as we explained on the previous page) to help you identify notes here as well. Stick to smelling the standards though, as the taste may be too strong or inhibit your ability to taste the wine. Simply smell the standards and then examine the wine in your mouth. What similarities do you find? You may also want to compare it to other wines of the same variety, such as two different chardonnays. This will help you distinguish certain notes and any differing characteristics of the wines.

Don't put the cork back in it yet! Even if you've swallowed that wine, you're not quite done. There are further steps you can take to detect wine notes. Check out the next page to find out what they are.