Betty's Wine Musings
The Beauty of Getting Your Wine Tasting Order Right

When you bring friends together for an evening of wine tasting, do you ever struggle with the order you choose to serve the wines? This article is intended to help you through those rough 🙂 times, so you can feel more confident and relaxed about your wine tasting.

The reality is you can drink your wine in any order. But the tastes of certain wines will diminish or damage the tastes of the wines that follow. So following a few simple rules to get your wine tasting order right (or at least close) is your safest bet. Recognize that when food is involved, these rules are likely to be broken. Have no fear. Breaking the rules is fine, even when food isn’t involved.

Whites Before Reds

Drinking lighter whites before bigger reds helps prevent the bigger reds from dulling your palate to the subtleties of the lighter bodied whites.

Light Body Before Heavy Body

It’s very challenging to taste a nuanced Pinot Noir after sipping a big, bad Cabernet. Likewise, a Pinot Gris after a Chardonnay will get lost.

Dry Before Sweet

When you start with sweet wines, the drier wines taste too acidic. So you’ll have your Riesling before your Sauvignon Blanc. But because of the light body vs. heavy body rule, you’ll have your Chardonnay as your last white.

Young Before Old

Because old wines tend to have much more complexity, you want to end with these.

End with Fortified

Fortified wines have high alcohol contents, and can burn out your sense of smell and your palate.

Recommended Order recommends the following order for some of the most common varietals. For blends, they recommend using the largest grape by percentage to determine where the wine should line up.

  1. Sparkling
  2. Dry Riesling
  3. Pinot Grigio
  4. Sauvignon Blanc
  5. Gewurztraminer
  6. Chenin Blanc
  7. Viognier
  8. Chardonnay
  9. Rosé
  10. Pinot Noir
  11. Sangiovese
  12. Tempranillo
  13. Grenache
  14. Zinfandel
  15. Merlot
  16. Syrah/Shiraz
  17. Cabernet Sauvignon
  18. Sweet Whites
  19. Sweet Reds
  20. Non-fortified Dessert Wines
  21. Fortified Wines

Cheers to enjoying many WINEderful tastings!

If you would like to join me in the wonderful world of wine consulting, I would love to speak with you. Please visit my Wine Business page as a first step. Cheers!

BettyPhotoCircularAs an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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      1. In Australia Shiraz is normally more full bodied than Cabernet Sauvignon.

        I also find US Cabernet Sauvignon more full bodied than what we make in Australia.

        From the few US “Syrah” I have tried I though they were quite medium bodied… I can understand why you have positioned this way.

        What about Argentinian Malbec?

      2. Thank you, Paul. It’s so interesting to hear about geographic differences. I clearly need to taste more Australian wine. Malbec is a tough one for me. I find it to be a brighter wine, so I would tend to put it fairly early in the red lineup, definitely before Merlots and Cabs, probably after Zins. What do you think?

      3. Hi Betty,
        a number of countries make Malbec. You are right it can be quite moderate in body and tannins.

        My favourite Malbec is from Argentina. The export Malbec is lighter. It is traditionally matured in Oak casks for the European market.

        In Argentina the most prized wines are matured in open concrete vats that concentrate the flavours. This leads to big, strong wines with ability to be stored…..I guess the same way Australians prefer a big bold Shiraz. Argentinian Malbec goes beautifully with either a roast beef or a beautiful steak!

        I would place the concrete vat matured Malbec between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz. (Based on my previous comments about Australian wines styles). The prized Argentinian Malbec is not quite as strong as some of the best US Cab, Sauvs, that I have tries.

  1. Hi. I am working for a local wine distributor, pretty new in this field
    I will be doing a sampling at some local accounts and need to know which order to sample these wines
    The grapes are as follows. Sangiovese, d’Avola and Nebbiolo 100% each grape in each wine

  2. Which to open first – an older Merlot or a younger Merlot/Cabernet/Saperavi blend? Are there general guidelines to follow in such cases, or is it case by case depending on the varieties?

    1. Hi Heath. If you’re doing a single type of wine, you taste from youngest to oldest. When you’re mixing up types of wine, you want to take into account the heaviness of the wine, because you typically go from light to heavy. In this case, I would think the two wines might be somewhat similar in weight, so I think you’d be safe starting with the blend and ending with the Merlot.

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