A question I get asked all the time: What is the proper way to taste sparkling wine? And the short answer is, the same way you taste wine.
You know we not only go sparkling wine tasting all the time, but also host sparkling wine tasting and pairing parties as well. And when it comes time to taste sparkling wine, I always tell the guests, you can be as formal or as informal as you want. After all, it’s your experience.
The fun part about following the “formal” steps to taste sparkling wine is it gives you practice if you ever want to become certified. And on the opposite end of that is sometimes it’s nice to just pour a glass and taste the sparkling wine for what it is, not following any formal steps.
We tend to flip flop between the two, but if you want to learn to wine taste or sparkling wine taste like a pro, there are six easy steps to follow.
6 Steps to Taste Sparkling Wine
Step 1: Sight
That big blank spot in the middle of your card will help you with this step. Simply tilt your glass at a 45 degree angle over the white part of the card and observe the color.
Rosés are my most favorite to do this with to see the varying colors of pink thanks to the pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes.
But if you’re tasting anything other than a rosé, it will typically be somewhere between a pale yellow to light gold. You will occasionally find something darker which then begs the question, was there something else added to this?
Step 2: Swirl
Now many people think this step is only for still wines, but that is not the case actually. But don’t be too aggressive on the swirl or you will lose your bubbles.
Giving your bubbly a gentle swirl before tasting will open up the bubbly to release the aromas and, of course the taste.
Step 3: Sniff
Now that you gave your bubbly a little swirl, take a sniff. You may smell anything from yeast to fruit from freshly baked bread to the elements of the earth.
I learned a very valuable lesson while doing an in depth cava tasting in Spain. When it comes to smell and taste of your bubbly, you will typically only smell and taste those things that are familiar in your world. If you don’t eat apples or have never tried one, you would never smell or taste apples. Does that make sense?
Step 4: Sip
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Of course, the flavor is everything. And there’s no right or wrong here. Just like I said above when it comes to smell, you’re going to taste the flavors that are familiar in your diet.
When it comes to taste, it is typically labeled and characterized by the amount of residual sugar in the wine. Check out our sweetness scales to discover your favorite.
Step 5: Swallow
When you swallow your wine you may taste different flavors as it moves through the back of your mouth leaving you with an aftertaste. It might taste sweeter or fruitier. And that is all part of the experience.
Step 6: Savor
Enjoy that sip of wine and now it’s time to give it a rating. If you have a Bubbly Side of Life placemat, you’ll see 5 empty bubbly flutes in each space. Color in how many glasses of that particular bubbly you’d want to drink. Is this a one drink and move on to something else or is this something you wouldn’t even want to share the bottle because it’s just that good?
If you don’t have a Bubbly Side of Life placemat, make a note on how well you like that particular sparkling wine. Trust me when I say it will help in the end when you want to purchase a bottle of bubbly.
What’s your favorite way to taste sparkling wine? Formal or informal?
I mentioned we love to host sparkling wine tasting parties and pairing parties. And we have documented these ideas on the blog.
And of course, we taste sparkling wine like its our job (ok, it is), but even so, we have some great recommendations for you. If you’re a person who likes organization, you will find these on Pinterest. If you love a feed full of sparkling wine, join us over on Instagram.