Back to top

The 5 S's of Wine Tasting


At a glance wine can seem quite intimidating. At St. Julian Winery, our goal is to help you feel confident when talking about your favorite wine. Whether you are visiting one of our 6 tasting rooms or hosting a tasting of your own, following the 5 S’s of wine tasting (see, swirl, smell, sip, and savor) will have you feeling like a sommelier in no time!

  • SEE: Hold your glass against a neutral background with good lighting. You will want to bring your attention towards the rim, or the edge where the wine meets the glass. Slightly tilting your glass at a 45 degree angle will help you get a better view of this. This is where you will be doing most of your observations. A few things to look out for are:
    • Opacity: How dark is this wine? Can you see through it clearly? Are the colors you’re seeing deep, or is it pale and clear?
    • Hue: This is going to be the true color of the wine. This is a great opportunity to be creative in describing what you see. Red wines can often be described as ruby, purple or brick-red if you have an older vintage. White wines are often described as white, straw, gold, and copper.
    • Clarity: You will want to make sure your glass is free of any sediment. If you choose to drink an older bottle of red wine, it is likely that you will find sediment inside the bottle. These are tannin polymers which are a direct result of the aging process in the bottles. Though safe to drink (just bitter and adds texture to the wine) we recommend pouring your bottle of wine through a cheesecloth and into a decanter to remove all sediment.
  • SWIRL: Swirling is crucial when it comes to your tasting experience. It is the action of swirling that introduces oxygen into your wine and brings out all of its delicious aromas and flavors. This is called ‘opening-up’ the wine. Everyone has a different way of doing it, you can raise your glass in the air and create big circles with your wrist. If you are worried about spills, you can place the glass in between your middle and index finger, set the glass on a flat surface and gently make small circles. All methods are great and really makes you look like a pro!
  • SMELL: After you have given your glass an honest swirl, the next step is to smell the wine. This means bringing the glass to your nose so you can take in the wine's unique aroma. For example, do you smell baking spices, smoke, lemon zest or even grass? Wines tend to have multiple aromas within them and it can be a fun challenge to try and pick out as many as you can. Be as creative as you want. Repeat the swirl and smell process to help pick up on new aromas.
  • SIP: Now to the most anticipated part of any wine tasting experience: tasting the wine! As you take your first sip, allow the wine to explore your taste buds. Compare what you are tasting with what you initially smelled. If you are enjoying one of St. Julian’s, Braganini Reserve Cabernet Francs can you taste the plum, raspberry & exotic spice aroma? Be sure to take multiple sips to allow yourself to get the full range of flavors. SAVOR:  Finally, there is savor or “the finish”. You will be looking for lasting intensity in flavors, or in other words, the impression that the wine has left after it has been tasted. Ultimately this will be your final take away from the wine. Now with your glasses full and your new tools for tasting, there is nothing left to be said other than, cheers from St. Julian Winery!