wine storeHave you ever walked into the wine store and been incredibly intimidated by the sheer number of wine and spirits available? Well considering that there are over 7,700 wineries across the country in all 50 states, it makes sense that there are wines of every color, alcohol content, and flavor imaginable.

Despite the fact that there are so many different types of wine on the market, it is crucial that you taste as many as possible to really see what you like! Here is a beginner’s guide to tasting wine so you won’t be overwhelmed at the wine stores anymore!

Step one: Make sure your tasting conditions are consistent

A lot of factors can impede the taste of your wine, including the temperature of the room, if there are any smells, and if you have eaten anything recently. You want to get rid of these conditions as quickly as you can to allow the wine to stand out on its own.

Pro tip: Only eat starchy foods when tasting wine such as crackers or pretzels to minimize interacting with your taste buds.

Step two: Sight

You have your glass in hand and it is time to start drinking! First, you need to look at the color of the wine and analyze its consistency. If you are drinking a red, the color should be maroon, purple, or ruby red, and your white wines should be the color of straw, pale yellow, or even have some hints of green. Typically, white wines should also be clear enough to see through.

Pro tip: The older the wine, the clearer it will be.

Step three: Swirl

Make sure to swirl the wine a little before sipping. This acts as an aerator and it will enhance the wine’s flavor and aromas.

Pro tip: When swirling, look at the liquid residue as it slides back into the drink. The more finger-like lines that are produced, the higher the alcohol content.

Step four: Smell

You want to take two separate sniffs — a quick whiff to get a first impression, then a deeper inhale to discover the wine’s lingering flavors.

Pro tip: You’ll be able to smell a lot of different flavors: vanilla, oak, citrus, and floral, to name a few.

Step five: Sip

Take a small sip and let the wine roll around your tongue; really savor the taste. Taking your time will let you get a feel for the different flavors and let you experience the wine’s finish once you have swallowed.

Pro tip: With the wine still in your mouth, take a small breath of air so the liquid can oxidize and pull out even more flavors.

With these five tips in mind, those wine stores won’t be so intimidating!