The pressure is on as the sommelier comes over and pours a taste of wine for you, your date is looking on, smiling, and you have no idea what you are doing. The good thing, tasting wine is easy, and you do not have to be an expert to know what you are doing. It is about the smell, the sight and the taste.
The sommelier will place the cork next to you, many people sniff the cork, and this is an unnecessary action, you can leave the cork as the sommelier pours. Instead look at your date with confidence and smile.
After the pour you will swirl the wine gently in your glass, this will help spread the bouquet of the wine, you will see the wine dripping down the inside of the glass, these are called the legs of the wine. The wider the legs, the more alcohol content in the wine.
Take the glass and tilt it towards you and up to the light. This will help you determine the age of the wine. You are looking at a small area called the meniscus. This is at the top of the wine glass you will see a slightly different color to help you distinguish the age. For red wines a younger wine will be a light purplish color, properly aged wine will be a dark red color. If you are drinking white wine, the younger wine will be similar to the color of the wine and the perfectly aged wine will be a slightly deeper color.
Now is the time you have been waiting for, the taste of the wine. This really has no rhyme or reason; it is all about personal taste. If the wine did have a slight vinegar smell take a small sip; if it tastes like vinegar the wine has turned. You may have requested a dry white wine and your waiter served you a Riesling, which is sweet. In this case, you would send the wine back and request what you ordered (politely of course).
If the wine is to your pleasing you can now ask the sommelier to pour for you and your date (or the table if you are with a group of people.) You have now successfully shown that you can taste wine like an expert. It isn’t all about the steps, it is also about confidence. Look like you know what you are doing, and that is what will help you be a success.