The Five S’s

If you attended the wine pairing dinner on June 19th then you got an education from Dr. Gary Pavlis about how to properly taste your favorite wines.  If you did miss out on the dinner, don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you need right here.

Dr. Gary Pavlis
Dr. Gary Pavlis, Rutgers Cooprative Extension

To properly taste a wine you just need to follow The Five S’s

SIGHT: Go ahead and take a good look at the wine you’re drinking.  Look at the color, from the deep red of a cabernet to the buttery yellow of a chardonnay.  Notice the clarity of the wine, and look for any sediment that might be swirling around in your glass.  It’s also worth checking out your wine’s legs.  That’s the trails that the wine leaves down the side of the glass after you swirl it around.  Speaking of swirling…

SWIRL: Giving your wine a nice whirl does a lot to enhance the taste.  Agitating your wine releases the esters, ethers, and aldehydes that combine with oxygen to yield the bouquet. In other words, swirling aerates the wine and gives you a better smell.  The bouquet is an important part of the taste, so if you wine hasn’t had enough of a swirl it won’t taste as good as it could!  That brings us to…

SMELL: Many people say that this is the most important part of wine tasting. We can only perceive four different tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salt. That may not seem like a lot, but the average person can smell over 2,000 different scents, and wine has over 200 of its own. What does the wine smell like? Often you can describe the smell of the wine by comparing it to other scents.  Look for red fruit scents, like raspberry and blackberry, in red wines and pear and pineapple scents in white wines.  Doesn’t talking about all these delicious things make you thirsty?  Well then…

SIP: The people who don’t say that smell is the most important part of wine tasting are probably a little more concerned with this part. But don’t rush into it!  Take only a small mouthful of wine, and make sure to move it around your whole mouth.  If you don’t bring the wine into contact with your taste buds, how are you going to actually taste it?  Don’t just gulp it down, even if it is that good!  After you’ve gotten all the flavor out of your first sample sip it’s time to…

SAVOR: Now that you’ve swallowed the wine, take a moment to evaluate your experience.  Think about the lingering taste and texture of the wine.  This is called the finish, and it can be just as rewarding as going back in for another sip.  See how long the wine’s taste lasts in your mouth, and try to determine the different tastes.

After you’ve gone through the Five S’s once, simply repeat until your glass is empty.  We recommend lots of practice!

If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on the next great Hawk Haven event, just check out the Events section of!  This weekend, the 17th and 18th, is our “Walk In The Vineyard” event. Click here for more information.

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