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a group of people at a wine partyWhether you're at a winery, a wine tasting party, or ordering wine in a restaurant ... wine tasting can be fun, educational, and very rewarding.

The fun starts when you realize that wine tasting is a completely sensory experience, and so completely subjective.

Don't be afraid to voice your opinion and add to the conversation with your impressions of a chosen wine.

Unless your goal is to impress everyone, tasting wine should be about the wine, and not about who is watching your performance. If an expensive wine is not to your liking, say so!

How to taste wine

Step 1. Begin by twirling the glass around. The gentle action helps oxygenate the wine inside the glass to fully release its flavor.

Step 2. Appreciate its color. The bright ruby of a deep red wine, or golden yellow of a crisp white wine is a natural beauty to behold. Is is it clear or cloudy? Does the color permeate the entire glass or does it fade near the top?

A rich Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, should be darker than a lighter Pinot Noir, therefore the color should be appropriate for the type of wine you are tasting. (You'll learn this more fully as your wine education expands your enjoyment and appreciation.)

Step 3. Lean over the glass and inhale deeply. This step is where beginners come to fully realize the complexity and character of wines. Is the aroma fruity, earthy, musty, oaky? Now twirl the glass around again (See Step 1) and note additional aromas you may be picking up. There may be sensations similar to chocolate, lavender, lemon, apricot, or dozens of other aromas depending upon the wine grapes used and where they were grown, harvested, or blended.

Step 4. Finally, how does it taste? Smooth and sweet or rough and acidic? What other flavors are you noticing? Does it blend or pair well with the food, or does it overwhelm every other taste in your mouth? Do you like it?

Around the Web, learn more about gathering with your wine-loving friends and getting close up and personal with your favorite wines ...

also see -> How to Choose a Good Wine

More information about wine tasting & wine tasting party ideas:

Wine Tasting at Wine - You can hold a wine tasting party every month for a year and still not run out of ideas with this site's feature story archive dating back to 1999, with great suggestions for centering your party around a particular wine or wine and food pairings.

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