How to taste wine like an expert

Heading to a wine festival or wine tasting and don’t quite know what you’re doing?

Don’t worry, Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director and Wine Educator at Cellarmasters, lists her top tips for how you can taste wine like an expert and get the most of your experience.

Shortlist your favourites
Find out what wines will be served, and shortlist the ones you want to try. Take into consideration the wine varietals you tend to like, but also use this as an opportunity to try something different. Stick to no more than 20 wines to sample in one day, as your palette gets fatigued after that.

Try the whites first and use sparkling as a palette cleanser
Try the white wines first, as this will keep your palette clean. Once you start tasting the reds, don’t go back to the whites. However, if you do end up tasting a mix of red and white varietals, use sparkling wine as a palette cleanser or a bit of bread and cheese.

Sniff, swirl and taste
Once you have the wine in your glass, smell it – don’t swirl it around immediately, as doing so opens all the aromas and can hide the different characters. After your first smell, swirl the wine in the glass and smell again, then taste it by swishing it around in your mouth for five to ten seconds. This warms up the wine, and by swishing it, the wine covers all your taste buds and you get the full experience.

Take note of the finish
After you’ve tasted the wine, take a moment to notice the finish. How long does the flavour last, what is the lasting taste? Does it appeal to you?

Ask the winemaker
At many festivals and wine-tasting events the winemaker will be there, so take the chance to ask them questions about their wine. For instance, what temperature the wine is best served at, what food goes best with it, if you should cellar it and if so, for how long and what will happen to the flavor if you do so.


Mini vino vocab

The top five words to know ahead of a winetasting. 

Acid – Acidity gives wine its tart and sour taste.

Mouthfeel – This is used to describe the body and texture of the wine, for example: silky, smooth, velvety and rough. 

Balance – A wine is balanced when all the different components are working in harmony. The key components that should be in balance are alcohol, acidity, tannin, sweetness and fruit.

Finish – The lasting impression of a wine and the taste that stays on the palate after it has been swallowed. The length of the finish is the final indicator of the wine’s quality.

Dryness – A dry wine is simply a wine that has no residual sugar, meaning it isn’t sweet

Australia’s best winemakers coming to Sydney and Melbourne

Clear your palate, because 20 of Australia’s best wine makers including Neil McGuigan, Nick Badrice and Gwyn Olsen are coming to Sydney and Melbourne in July and August to serve up a wide range of award- winning wine.

The annual Cellarmasters’ Meet the Makers event is taking place at Sydney’s Pyrmont Point on the evening of Friday 14 July and Melbourne’s Docklands on the evening of Friday 18 August, and is a unique chance for wine lovers to sample up to 60 prized wines and meet their makers.

“There are so many wines but so little time, however, Cellarmasters Meet the Makers allows you to explore new wines while hearing the unique stories behind each vintage direct from the maker. It’s a lovely evening of tasting and learning,” said Christine Rickets.

neil mcguiganAccording to Neil McGuigan, who is one of the world’s most awarded winemakers, the event is a great opportunity for winemakers to connect with people and educate them about their award- winning products.

“I love meeting people and explaining the philosophy behind our wine making and giving them hints about the different notes they can taste in our range,” he said.

“I also get a lot of invaluable feedback during Meet the Makers, and nothing beats seeing the reaction of a wine enthusiast having a sip of your wine,” he added.

Event: Cellarmasters Meet the Makers, Annual Wine Tasting Event – Sydney
Where: Doltone House Darling Island Wharf, 48 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont Point
Date: Friday 14 July
6:00pm – 8:30pm

Event: Meet the Makers, Annual Wine Tasting Event – Melbourne
Where: Peninsula C, Shed 14, Central Pier, 161 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands
Date: Friday 18 August
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Cost: From $32 + booking fee

For tickets and more information, head to