Wine Novice 101

Educating you palate is easier than you think and will enhance your enjoyment of Australia’s many wine styles, grape varieties and regions. Here are some simple steps on how to go about tasting your wine.


The order of the wines that you taste is important too. Start with sparkling wine, followed by whites and then the reds.

First make sure you are not wearing any strong perfumes and other aromas are not competing with the smell of your wine. Make sure the room is well lit and you have sufficient light to view the appearance. Clear your palate with a glass of water or a dry water biscuit.

Now you are ready to start. Have a good look at the appearance of the wine for clarity and colour. Tilt the glass and examine the rim and the body. Holding the glass up against a white background will make it easier to see the intensity. White wine can range from clear to golden yellow. Red wines can range from pink to almost black.

Wines from cooler regions tend to be paler and warmer regions produce darker wines. In white wines a brownish colour can mean the wine has gone off. Age will also affect the colour. Mature wines are paler around the rim. Red wines will have a garnet or orange tint as apposed to purple.

Next swirl the glass lightly to release the aromas and raise the glass to your nose and inhale the scents. Wine aromas can vary depending on the type of glass you use. The best type of glass to use is one that narrows at the top.

Consider the intensity and harmony. Do you like the smell? Can you detect any fruit characters such as berries, citrus, floral or oak ? Sometimes you can pick up if a wine is faulty from the aroma without even tasting it.

Now, at last, it is time to taste the wine. Take a small sip and introduce a little oxygen into your mouth. Swish the wine around note the after taste and the finish. Is it sweet, or acidic, light or full bodied? Do you have a powdery feeling in your mouth which may indicate the wine is tannic? Is the wine good for drinking now or do you think it would benefit from cellaring?

If you have a thirst for the most up to date and comprehensive range of wine education classes and activities the National Wine Education and Training Centre is the place for you.

Managed by the South Australian Wine Industry Association which, for 65 years, has developed an outstanding reputation for delivering fun classes that educate and inform. Most classes are held at the National Wine Centre (at the intersection of Hackney Road and Botanic Road) though some of the courses are now being offered at venues in wine producing regions, such as Parri Estate cellar door in McLaren Vale.

Your knowledge and confidence will grow with every new wine that you taste. NWETC wine educators will engage your palate in a fun and educational environment. Ideal for individuals, groups of friends or work colleagues and a great place to get the basics for those wanting to improve their skills for work in the wine and hospitality industries.

For more information on NWETC wine courses www.winesa.asn.au/wine-courses

Wine Notes by Carl Hanson