Whether you are in your twenties, thirties, or forties, the experience of wine can come to you at any moment of time. You may recall a time when you thought that any wine is good wine. While there is some truth to that, buying, or what I call investing, in a wine is a completely different story. The generic rules of swirling, sniffing, and sipping are a start. But there is much more to determine before making that leap and purchasing your first bottle of good wine.

So what makes for a good bottle of vino? Over the years, I have adapted a strong palate for Italian red wine. Rest assured, there were moments of bad wines, not all of which were inexpensive. But you learn from those moments and understand how to steer away from bad flock. One rule of thumb is to not quickly pass judgment about a wine without truly understanding and evaluating it. If you test the wine properly, you will be able to identify the strong elements of good wine. Good wine is, in itself, a sensory experience. It begins with a visual understand. The act of watching the mesmerizing texture of the rich opaque color swirl in your glass will set the stage on your journey of delight. From there, the experience becomes transcendent by your sense of smell, an ability that will untap an entire new world for you. Lastly, you become enriched by the flavor and finally make your judgment then.

So what do I do?

When expecting your first bottle of wine, understand that appearance isn’t everything. Keep in mind that many wine bottles spend millions of dollars creating an enticing front label. While they may seem appealing, it is to your best interest to read the entire package before you purchase. Just like anything that you would buy online or at a store, educating yourself is the first step in the game. Try and gain information about the flavors, aging process, importers, and regions on the labels and back of the wine bottle. If you are still unsure of your soon-to-be purchase, ask the wine steward or a friend for recommendations. At times, they may even aid you in your wine tasting experience, while also providing you with the necessary information you are seeking for your buy.

Now remember the steps of swirl, sniff, and sip? It is not meant as a ritual when drinking wine. Rather, it is a great way to expose your senses to the potential that the wine has to offer. By using your senses of sight and smell, you are able to focus on the specifics that make the wine unique before drinking it. The stronger understanding of what it smells like, whether it smells sweet, bitter, or distinct, will leave your taste buds with an impression, thus enhancing the overall experience.

Once you have stimulated your visual and smelling senses, it is now time to taste. In wine tasting, the mouth feel, or stage of taste testing,allows you to comprehend the general sensation that the wine has on your tongue and your mouth. During this process, you want let the liquid move around your tongue and use your taste buds to figure out the different flavors you can pick up on. Remember, wine is complex. It is a series of flavors that get stronger the longer it stays on your tongue. Now remember, as stated before, the process of wine tasting is simply not drinking, but educating. As you drink, ask as many questions as you can. Voice what you taste and what you feel.  If you enjoy the product, chances are you will be content with your purchase. Be mindful that there is a large variety of wine for you to choose from. Do not freak out. This just means there is more to experience!