You’re having friends over for a rollicking evening of wine tasting. Each person or couple is bringing their favorite bottle. The big question is: How do you determine the best wine tasting order? This article will walk you through the things that are helpful to think about to truly nail your wine tasting order.
Please keep in mind that everything in this article is a guideline. If you want to start with Cabernet and finish up with Chardonnay, be my guest. But know that the tastes of certain wines are likely to diminish or damage the tastes of the wines that follow. I recommend following a few simple rules to get the very best wine tasting order – and the very best wine tasting experience.
Guideline #1: Whites before Reds
If you drink reds first, you’re likely to dull your palate to the subtleties of the lighter bodied whites.
Guideline #2: Light Body before Heavy Body
If you start with a big, bad Cabernet, you won’t be able to taste the beautiful nuances of a Pinot Noir that you drink next. Similarly, a Muscat after a Chardonnay is likely to get lost.
Guideline #3: Dry before Sweet
When you start with sweet wines, the dry wine’s tartness will be exaggerated by contrast with the sweetness of the wine you just tasted. But because of the light-body vs. heavy-body rule, you always want your last white to be Chardonnay.
Guideline #4: Young before Old
Because old wines tend to be more complex, you want to end with these.
Guideline #5: Finish Your Tasting with Fortified Wine
The higher alcohol in fortified wines will plain and simply screw up your ability to smell and taste anything you try after.
FirstPourWine.com recommends a very specific order for common varietals to get the best wine tasting order. It’s a fun list to refer to, but I prefer to be a little less rigid and come up with my own order.
I’d love to hear about anything you do to come up with your best wine tasting order. Please share your experiences with us. Thanks.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like to host a wine tasting that I lead for you and your friends, please let me know.
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!
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Good tips! Does the amount of alcohol in each bottle suggest at all which to tackle first when partaking of a line up of wines? Also, should we use water to rinse our palates in between wines? Thanks again for the tips!
The amount of alcohol can play a role. For example, fortified wine has the highest alcohol, and you always end with it. If you had two Chardonnays, and one was 12% alcohol and the other was 13% alcohol, you would drink the lower alcohol one first, since the higher alcohol one might wreak havoc on your taste buds. In between wines, water is okay, but your best bet is a water cracker or a piece of bread. Cheers!