The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

How-To: Properly appreciate a glass of wine

Ah, sophistication… a term that’s almost always synchronized with wine. If you’re anything like me, then you have difficulty understanding the seemingly strange techniques that encompass the “proper” way to enjoy the grape-based delicacy. Different-shaped glasses, clarity, age… the numerous factors just come off as a bit overwhelming to the layperson (i.e. me).

This past weekend, however, I had the chance to broaden my horizons at a wine-tasting at Captain’s Walk winery in Green Bay. Actor Tony Shaloub (Monk, Wings) even showed up to the event.  (I understand this has absolutely nothing to do with wine; I just felt a name drop was appropriate).

Essentially, I learned that the basics for “appreciating” the drink come down to three simple categories: sight, smell, and taste.  Follow these quick steps the next time you’re at a yacht party, wedding, or even a small social gathering. You’ll be able to blow everyone away with your elegant (and undeniably impressive) know-how.


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The first thing to do when you receive a glass of wine, I learned, is to look at it.  The wine’s color will tell you if it’s young or mature.  Slightly tip your glass to the side; if the wine leaves a brief mark on the inside of the glass, that’s a good sign that it’s aged well.  Clear, full clarity are always signs of a good wine.

If the wine is cloudy, however, that most likely means that the bottle had a bad cork and got oxidized — not necessarily ideal.


Another important part in the wine-tasting process is to appreciate the fragrance.  Once your glass is poured and you’ve given it a brief look, hold the stem and give it a gentle swirl. Doing so will help release fragrances that would have otherwise been unnoticeable. The curved top of the typical wine glass is designed to trap the aromas inside, making the wine taste even better.


Once you’ve eyed up your glass and given it a swirl ‘n’ sniff, you’re ready to sample it. This, in my opinion, is the most bizarre step of the three.

The best way to appreciate the taste of a wine comes down to breathing.  Before you sip it, breathe in and trap a bit of air in your mouth — this trapped oxygen helps highlight the full taste of the wine. Just be sure not to choke.

So there you have it — short and simple, yet sassy and sophisticated.  It may seem like an awful lot of work to put into taking a sip of wine, but from what I learned, these quick steps make for the greatest outcome.

If you’re feeling adventurous (and just so my editor doesn’t fire me, if you’re of age), pour yourself a nice glass of Merlot or Riesling this weekend and give it the ol’ look, smell and taste.  Hopefully the above tips will help you appreciate it all the more.

And hey — if you’re lucky, you just might meet Tony Shaloub.

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