Tag Archives: wine tasting

Beginner’s guide to wine tasting

By Rachel Leigh


Hank Johnson, owner and founder of Chaumette Vineyards and Winery explains the correct way of wine tasting. For Johnson, small details matter in fine wine. Photo by Rachel Leigh

GENEVIEVE- You can see the passion oozing out of Hank Johnson’s blue eyes as he talks about his wine at Chaumette Vineyards & Winery, located in St. Genevieve, Missouri. Johnson said, “how you grow the grapes determines how good the wine is.”

Johnson is a family man who runs his business with careful precision. When he conducts his wine tastings, it is not just about tasting good wine, but a chance to fall in love with a work of art. Here are three tips gleaned from his tasting session that will take your tasting to the next level.

Rule one: Be adventurous and ask questions.

Take a deep breath and let go of any pressure you feel to be perfect at a tasting. There will be a well-trained employee serving you who can answer all your questions. Remember, no one expects you to be an expert. Try at least one new wine. You may be tempted to taste what you know but you won’t grow your wine palate trying the same old stuff. Take this time to fall in love with a new wine.

Rule two: Know the five S’s

Anyone familiar with wine knows there is a process to it. It is called the five S’s: sight, swirl, smell, sip, and savor.


Once your glass is poured, pick it up and hold it to the light. Johnson said the wine should look clear and not cloudy and the color should be bright. If you are familiar with the wine variety, ask yourself, “Does the color appear true to the variety?”


Set your glass on the bar top and swirl it gently.  After a few seconds hold it up to the light once more. You should see streams of wine of what looks like “tears” streaming down from the glass. Johnson said tears, or what some call legs, are the marker of the alcohol content in the glass. The longer the tear streams, the higher the alcohol content in the glass.


Next, set your nose deep into the glass and breathe in. The swirling of the wine should release the aromas so you can more easily detect many dimensions of the wine. Depending on the type of wine you are trying you may smell different things. Johnson said with white wine you might smell types of fruit like pear or apple. Red wine may smell like cherry or plum. Ask yourself if you can smell multiple flavors, or only one? Does the aroma hit your nose sharply, or is it a dull, muted smell? A good wine will not have one dominant scent but will be well balanced and multi-dimensional. Johnson said.


Now you’re ready to try the wine. Take a sip to see if you can taste the same flavors you smelled. To truly experience all the flavors, you can try what Johnson calls “the reverse whistle.” Once you take a sip purse your lips, drop your chin and draw in air. This type of tasting will make the flavors expand in your mouth.


Close your eyes and let the wine linger on your tongue. How does it feel in your mouth? Is it smooth or does it have a bite? After you swallow the wine, does it leave a lingering taste on your tongue?

Rule three: Go in the right order

When tasting wines you should start with the sweeter wines and then the dry so your tongue palate isn’t overwhelmed with sweetness. If you taste both red and white wines start with the white because they are typically more fruity and sugary.

Follow these three simple rules and you’ll fit right in at your next wine tasting. Typical tastings will allow for five to six wines for less than ten dollars. Be sure to bring a few extra bucks for tips!

Tastings are on offer at Chaumette Vineyards and Winery for $5/six tastes. Visit chaumette.com/wine/ for more information.

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Filed under MU School of Journalism, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, wine

Swirl, smell and sip–the MU Food Writers take on a proper wine tasting

By: Faith Vickery

CHIUSDINO, Italy— Contrary to American culture, in Italy a glass of wine is perfectly acceptable to consume at the ripe hour of 1 pm; therefore a proper wine tasting was certainly in order.

Jessica Haden, the Spannocchia farm intern director, placed a bottle of white, rosé and red wine, as well as some Vin Santo, a sweet Italian dessert wine, before us. All varieties were produced right on the farm.

With a long-stemmed glass in our hands we were instructed to not sip or smell but look at the wine in our glass. Color, viscosity, and opaqueness all characterized the wines we were about to encounter.

The next step was to smell. We swirled the wine around in our glass to aerate and release the natural aromas. We learned not to sniff forcefully, but rather just breath with our nose over the glass. The white wine hinted at an apple scent while the rosé wafted floral. Our novice noses even picked up cloves in the red wine.

Finally we were told to taste the wine. To properly taste wine, we learned to coat the inside of our mouths to reach all taste buds. We discussed the acidity, the sweetness, and the finish of each wine.

Jessica referred to wine tasting as organoleptic, feeling something with all of your senses. I’d never thought of it this way but tend to agree. Next time you taste wine, don’t just taste, but see the vines, smell the grapes, and let the wine unravel it’s complexity right before you.

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Filed under MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Spannocchia