The Five “Esses” To Tasting Wine

By Aillinn Brennan • Special to The Current

You already have the bottle you are opening next, now you just need to find a tulip shaped wine glass. To insure the best sensory experience of the wine, it must be at the proper serving temperature. For white’s that would be 49-55 degrees, which is warmer than your fridge. For red’s, between 62-68 degrees, the cooler side of room temperature.

Now for the 5 Esses; See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor.

See. Wine is beautiful in its visual expression in the glass. Think, as pretty as sunshine hitting the water on a blue-sky lake day. The way wine looks determines many things about the wine. Like how it was made and how old it is. The color can even clue the varietal, or type of grape. 

To really see your wine, pour about an ounce into your glass. Hold the glass by the stem at a 45-degree angle against a white piece of paper. Look for the depth of color. Deep or pale? A Pinot Noir will be lighter in color than a Cabernet Sauvignon. Notice the wines clarity, a wine may be spoiled if it is not clear. Brilliance and brightness are signs of a wine that contains the correct level of acidity. A dull looking wine will likely taste dull.

Next, hold the glass by the stem and swirl the glass to get the wine moving into the “bowl” of the glass. You are now aerating the wine. With oxygen forcing its way into the wine it is displacing the alcohol and aromatic compounds into the bowl. Now, stick your nose ALL the way in, and take a deep sniff. What do you smell? What ever comes to mind is correct. A particular flower? Lemon? Peach? Apple? An herb? A baking spice? These are all very common in wine. The marvel of wine is that those chemical compounds of an apple, or a blueberry, or vanilla actually exist in the wine and are produced through the magic of fermentation.

Now that your visual and olfactory senses are stimulated, take a sip. When the wine enters your mouth, with pursed lips breath in some air. It may seem silly but now you have the wine moving around the palate for the optimal savor experience. Taste receptors are abundant on the palate, and wine by design, is meant to activate them like crazy.

What do you taste? Is it the experience of biting into an apple picked fresh from a tree, with sweet and tart flavors colliding? Perhaps it has elements of a blueberry muffin right out of the oven, with big berry flavors and vanilla. Really any of your associations are correct. 

As with any new skill, practice makes perfect. So see, swirl, smell, sip and savor that glass of wine!

Aillinn Brennan is proprietor of The Marion Hose Bar located at 16 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe. For more visit

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April 18, 2019, 4:16 am

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