Wine 101: Wine Pro Tips and Tricks

Welcome back to Wine 101, a bite-sized video series exploring all things wine designed to help
refine your knowledge and enhance your experience. My first blog in this series, Back to the Basics, laid the foundation for your wine journey. Now, I’m sharing some tips and tricks of the
trade that will transform you from mere wine enthusiast into a true aficionado.

Mastering the Swirl

Wine 101: How to Swirl a Wine Glass Like a Pro

Swirling your glass is more than a fancy flourish—it’s good for your wine too! A quick, vigorous
swirl helps aerate your wine and release its unique combination of aromas, also known as the
bouquet. Try smelling your wine before and after you swirl, you should be able to notice a slight
difference in the aromas. You can start practicing your swirl by holding a pen the way you would
hold a wine glass stem and moving your wrist in small circles. Once you’re used to the motion,
pick up your glass and give it a whirl.

Pro tip: If you’re worried about spilling your wine, you can also move the glass in small circles
on the table for the same effect. And be sure to only swirl still wines; sparkling wines prefer to
keep their effervescence intact.

Approving a Bottle

Wine 101: How to Approve a Bottle of Wine at a Restaurant

Approving a bottle of wine at a restaurant can be a daunting experience if you don’t know what
to do. Let’s break it down.

When your server hands you that first pour, it’s your job to examine the wine for any flaws. First,
you want to make sure the color is right for the age of the bottle. Younger red wines will be a
deep, ruby red and become lighter with age, changing to more brick-red hues. For whites, the
opposite is true, with straw hues giving way to darker gold and amber as the wine ages. Next,
it’s time to practice your swirl and give the wine a sniff, checking for any off-putting or musty
smells. If you smell something like wet cardboard, it could be a sign of cork taint, caused by a
type of mold called TCA (it’s not common but it does happen). After confirming the bottle is in
good condition, you can have your server pour for the table.

Navigating a Wine Tasting

Wine 101: 3 Tips for Your Next Wine Tasting

A wine tasting is a great way to broaden your palate and put your skills to the test. When
planning your day, keep in mind that most tastings will offer 5-7 samples, so it’s important to
pace yourself. Enter the 3 S’s:

Sip. You don’t need a full glass for every sample. A half ounce to ounce pour is enough for you
to experience the full body and bouquet the wine has to offer.

Spit. Don’t be afraid to ask for a spit bucket, or a spittoon, to spit your wine into after tasting.
You’re still absorbing the alcohol; you’re just minimizing your consumption so you can enjoy
more wines.

Schedule. It’s best to keep your schedule short with only 2-3 tastings in a day. Any more than
that and you’ll likely be too buzzed to fully embrace, or even remember, the tasting experience.

Speaking Wine

Wine 101: How to Sound Really Smart at Your Next Wine Tasting

Now that you’ve honed your tasting skills, it’s time to elevate your wine vocabulary. When
describing the smell of a wine, try to use words like “nose” or “bouquet.” If you want to talk about
how the wine tastes or feels in your mouth, you can use words like “palate” or “texture.” So if I
want to compliment the smell and taste of a wine, I might say “Wow, this wine has a beautiful
bouquet, and I love the smooth texture.” If you really want to up your wine banter, check out my
handy wine glossary here

When in doubt, be honest about your opinions. If the wine makes you hungry or miss your ex,
say that (but don’t call them!). And remember, a wine tasting is a learning experience as much
as it is a sensory one, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Looking for more sample-sized wine education? Follow along with the Wine 101 series in real
time on my Instagram, and let me know what you want to learn in future videos! Or if you’re
ready to go for a full pour, register for my online wine course and master the basics of wine in
one afternoon.