Happy Wine Wednesday!
I’m loving that more and more Kenyans are taking on an interest in wine and I have been receiving different comments and emails telling me to do more of these posts.

Sommelier Brilliant conducting a tasting. Pic Credit/ Crystal Olisa

My first wine-tasting was a tad embarrassing. I have never told anyone this story but once the wine was served, I jumped right into sipping. I’m glad it was not a professional event but I still got embarrassed all the same. No one saw me sip the wine (I hope) but I looked round and saw people smelling and swirling and that’s when I decided to observe and learn.
 Wine tasting is a fun experience. It is great because you have to indulge all your senses.  I have become very passionate about wine this year and I have developed my palate so that I can know what wine goes with what food. Being a wine enthusiast,  I have learnt a lot. Let’s just say I am in the journey. Today, I will explain to you what a great wine tasting experience should be like. I will also show you what to look for and how to uses your senses to get the best in the wine. A friend of mine recently asked me that I should do a post that sheds some light on the issue. Wine tasting is a process of many ‘S’.

 Set the Stage

Wine-tastings can take place in different places. If it is an event, the organizers should make sure that they set the stage and the area is free of noise and interruption. The area should be clean with no smells or strong perfumes from people. The presence of strong smells and noise will inhibit the senses and hinder concentration respectively.


The organizers should make sure that they have a container (spitoons) where people can pour their leftover wine and the wine that they don’t like. One of the best wine tasting plans is where there are tables with groups of people. This makes it easier to serve. The correct way of serving wine is serving it halfway in the glass to let it breathe. Remember to choose the correct glassware when serving.


Swirling is shaking the wine in a circular motion. Another reason why people serve wine halfway is to make sure that people don’t pour wine at the swirling stage. I wrote about legs and tears on this post.. Wines that have more prominent and visible legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that lack the legs.


There are many ways to use sight when winetasting. I did a post here. But just to recap, one should look at into the glass then hold the glass to the light, and finally, give it a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. This will help one to see the wine color range. This also gives a clue on the depth and density. One method that I learnt was to try and read through the wine. Less dense wines will let you see through while denser ones won’t let you see through. It also helps you know the grape variety. Purple-black color comes from Syrah or Zinfandel, while a lighter, pale brick shade comes from Pinot noir or Sangiovese grapes. Another way to view wine is to view it against a white tile/white background. Wine should be clear and devoid of sediments and particles. If it has there were problems in fermentation, aging or the cork would be infected. Here is a cheat sheet on how to describe wine colour.


After swirling put your nose at the mouth of the glass and smell. Don’t merely stick your nose into the wine but hover around the top and decipher different smells. Let your brain process the smells and write down the different things you register. Get the aroma of the wine. Wine aromas range from fruits, herbs, wood and other scents. Smelling can help you identify if wine is bad. If it smells like an attic, damp clothes or damp newspapers (You know that smell) then the wine is bad.


 It’s about time you tasted that wine.  Take a modest sip and aerate the wine with your tongue. This initial taste is very important.


Next take a ‘generous’ sip and let the wine sit on your tongue. Register the taste as the wine is on the tongue, to the sides of the mouth and to the back of the tongue. Register the aftertastes if any. Apart from simply identifying flavors use your taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete. Keep it here for more tips and explanations of wine jargon like these. This information is great because it helps you know about food & wine pairings. It helps you get your favorite wines too.
 Now that you have these tips, do not embarrass yourself in case you decide to go for a tasting.
Editorial- June 17/14