Wine tasting: everything you need to know!

No need to have taken a sommelier course to taste a wine in the rules of the art. Sight, smell and taste are precious allies when it comes to discovering it. Sommelier Jessica Harnois explains how to get the most out of what you drink.

We taste with …


We observe the color of the wine, that is to say its color, by holding the glass at 45 degrees in front of a white surface. “We look at two things: his age and his power. The more powerful it is in color, the more powerful it should be on the palate, ”reveals Jessica, who suggests taking a look at the rim of the glass, where the wine stops. “With age, the whites become more orange on the rim, while the reds become paler. If the wine does not discolor around the edges, it is still young. »When looking at the color, we think of fruits that are the same color, which will help us to identify the aromas. Pear, green apple, citrus, mango or apricot for the whites; cherry, red fruits, blackberry, blackcurrant or plum for the reds.


The time has come to put your nose in the glass to breathe in the aromas of the wine. “The more aromas a wine has, the more we will smell them,” says Jessica. If it smells like fruit and there is no woody smell, we will say that the wine has fruity, mineral, herbaceous or floral aromas. The wood, on the other hand, gives notes of cinnamon and cloves to the wine. “If we smell the fruit, but also other kinds of aromas, it is because there has been wood. When it smells of toast, we are talking about woody or spicy aromas. ”These wines with more marked smells are those that carry the“ Aromatic and round ”,“ Aromatic and fleshy ”and“ Aromatic and supple ”pastilles at the SAQ.


To watch from our first sip: sugar, acidity, bitterness and tannins. “You can taste the bitterness, like when you eat dark chocolate. If you have a cul-de-poule mouth, the wine is sweet, and when you grimace on the side of the cheeks, it’s acidity, ”explains the sommelier. As for the tannins, they are revealed by a certain astringency. “Is the texture of the wine on the palate round and rich or very dry? The mouth allows to see the activity of the wine. »Does it still taste like wine five seconds after taking a sip? We will say then that he has a lingering finish.


Our specialist says it right away: the sparkling wine is best enjoyed chilled, that is to say between 8 ° C and 10 ° C. “It is then placed in a champagne bucket with ice, cold water and salt. When she serves reds and whites to her guests, Jessica Harnois resorts to the 20-20 rule. “I take the whites out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving them because I don’t want them too cold, otherwise they won’t taste anything. As for the reds, I put them in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving them. “


First of all, it helps to know that decanting wine is not the same as decanting it. “We pass a wine in a carafe in order to aerate it,” says Jessica. No need to decant fruity wines, which will not improve on contact with air. “We decant wines that have an aromatic note. In contact with air, they will oxidize slightly. The idea is to soften the tannic substance. Being in contact with air makes the tannins less aggressive. As for decanting, a delicate operation which consists in separating the liquid from the deposits accumulated in the bottle, it is reserved for great wines.


It is a molecule called TCA that causes this characteristic cork smell. “It stings the wine and gives aromas of musty, old cellar base,” says the sommelier, who advises paying attention to the cork to detect the problem. “Either it’s wet and falling apart, or it’s completely dry and falling apart. These are visual warnings. Jessica then advises smelling the cork to be sure. “If it smells good, if it smells like wine, there is no problem. When it smells like the old moldy cellar bottom, the wine is often corked. It is then left in the bottle and returned to the store. “


Consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to wine glasses, but only four models are essential in Jessica’s eyes:

  • The flute : Inseparable from the sparkling wine, it can be replaced by a universal wine glass. “The flute is to see the presence of bubbles. The wine glass, on the other hand, maximizes the aromas of the nose. “
  • Universal glass: “All wines with a fruity pastille can be served in this type of glass, because they will not develop other aromas. These are young wines: we want to taste them as they are. “
  • The big balloon: They serve aromatic wines, but their intensity does not equal that of a cabernet sauvignon or a shiraz. “It’s perfect for aromatic, but light wines, like a pinot noir with oak or a burgundy. “
  • The long neck glass: These tall glasses are designed to showcase wines from the “Aromatic and Fleshy” pastille. “The glass helps aerate the wine, but the molecules stay in the long neck. We can therefore smell the wine longer. ”

Did you know ?

Jessica harnois

Archive photo, Pierre-Paul Poulin

Jessica harnois

There is no point in storing fruity wines, whose aromas do not change over the years. “Only aromatic wines can age and improve,” recalls Jessica Harnois. They switch from primary fruit aromas to tertiary aromas of leather and undergrowth. For the others, it doesn’t work. “

The epicurean behind the Bù range of wines has some nice surprises in store for the many fans of her bottles: three new essences will be available in grocery stores during the fall. To find out more, visit

About Victoria Smith

Victoria Smith who hails from Toronto, Canada currently runs this news portofolio who completed Masters in Political science from University of Toronto. She started her career with BBC then relocated to TorontoStar as senior political reporter. She is caring and hardworking.

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