We firmly believe that wine is meant for everyone to enjoy – and with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can start tasting wine and developing your palate like the pro's do! It all starts with the 5 S's of wine tasting...
It all starts with the wine in the glass. In the first step of wine tasting, we evaluate the color and opacity of the wine using sight. To evaluate the color of the wine, hold the glass at a slight angle against a white or neutral surface and notice the color range from the core of the glass to the rim. Certain colors, like deep purple, may indicate full-bodied varietals like Syrah or Malbec, while a lighter red core with a pale to clear rim may indicate a lighter variety, such as Pinot Noir or Grenache.
In addition to color, we also look at the opacity of the wine. Traditionally, clear and brilliant wine in the glass can be indicative of a quality wine, however Natural and unfiltered wines do appear cloudy in the glass. Another reason for a cloudy wine is the appearance of sediment that can come from a wine being shaken up too much prior to serving.
Before we smell the wine, we should first swirl the wine in the glass. Swirling wine helps introduce oxygen and release aromatic compounds in the wine. If you've never swirled wine, here's a tip: keep the bottom of the wine glass on a hard surface, and gently grip the glass and move your hand in a small circle. After you've practiced this for a while, you'll be able to start swirling your glass in the air freestyle like a champ.
It is in this step that we are able to evaluate the viscosity or legs of the wine. A wine with higher sugar content typically has slower-moving legs, while higher alcohol wines typically yield more droplets or number of legs.
After swirling the wine to release all the beautiful aromatics, it's time to smell the wine. No, you don't need to stick your nose all the way into the glass, but if that's you're style, do you boo. We find it best to take a series of short sniffs from different angles to allow our brain time to evaluate the information coming in. It's okay if all you smell is grapes – keep trying and the more you practice, the more you'll be able to identify different smells. Keep it simple and think about these three categories:
Primary Aromas: These are derived from the grapes themselves and include, fruit, herbal and floral notes.
Secondary Aromas: These smells come from the winemaking process (from things like yeast) and can smell like bread, nuts or cheese rind.
Tertiary Aromas: These aromas come from the aging process and can include things like baking spices, vanilla, cedar and tobacco.
Don't worry about identifying each and every aromatic. There are no wrong answers – have fun with it!
Now, the part you've been waiting for – it's time to taste the wine! Notice how the wine tastes similar or different to the aromatics you smelled in the previous step, and how the wine changes as it moves across your tongue. Does it taste sharp and acidic like lemons, or do you notice your mouth feeling drier than before you took a sip, indicating tannin structure? All of these clues can tell you the type of variety you may be tasting or how the wine was made. While no two wines will taste exactly the same, what you are looking for in this step is balance. If the wine taste like alcohol, if it's too sweet, too sour, etc., then it's not considered a well-balanced wine and will not age well.
Most importantly, what matters is whether or not YOU like the wine. Wine tasting is meant to be fun, and the more you practice, the better you'll get at identifying various tastes and smells. Eventually, as you learn to recognize individual characteristics of grape varieties, you may even begin to be able to identify specific varieties in a blind tasting!
Our goal is to make wines that add to the collective conversation. Wines with soul and purpose. By sourcing fruit from California’s most important vineyards, we’re able to create delicious wines that are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.
During our fun wine-tasting experience, you’ll taste a variety of unique, one-off wines inside our vintage gas station and garage. Each wine is a limited-edition blend created from unique varieties picked from California’s most interesting and important vineyard locations and partners. Blends include red wine, white wine, sparkling pét-nat, orange wine, rosé, and natural wine. Regardless of the occasion, we have a bunch of unique experiences for you and your whole squad. Can't make it to Napa Valley? We have Virtual Tasting options too!