How to Fully Appreciate Red Wine

smell red wineHow to Fully Appreciate Red Wine

Never hold a glass of wine by the bowl, always hold the stem. Call it a ‘nose’ not a ‘bouquet’ and swirl three, perhaps four times at most.

Alright, there are some pretty weird-sounding rules when it comes to tasting wine, but it’s nothing to be intimidated by, and if you really are interested in learning how to fully appreciate the sights, smells and taste of red wine, then there are a few fundamentals you’ll need to know.

At Groom+Style, we love a glass of wine, and let us tell you, there’s more to the red stuff than first meets the eye, although how the thing looks is pretty important, too. But, it can be a little confusing, knowing how to smell wine, how to judge its character based on the way it looks, how to taste it, we get it, but it’s easy. Here’s how we do it.

By the way, if you really want to be taken seriously as a wine connoisseur you will need to have an understanding of the top 5 best wine fridges!

How to Look at Red Wine? Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder!

The look of red wine

Looking at it is easy, but how do you assess it? How do you really see it, and determine the quality of your wine based on the way it looks?

There are two main things to look for when looking at wine: Color and clarity. The color is an indication of where the wine came from and how long it was matured for, and besides being just ‘red’, you might notice different shades, such as:

  • Ruby
  • Scarlett
  • Purple
  • Ink
  • Berry
  • Garnet
  • Jam
  • Current
  • Blood (yes, even blood red)

The color isn’t necessarily a mark of the wine’s quality, the clarity, however, often is. Red wine, no matter how dark, should have a certain clarity to it. Even in the darkest reds, cloudiness will be visible if you hold the wine up to the light. Cloudiness in wine can be a sign that the wine has gone bad, and may not be the greatest to drink.

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Groom+Style recommends:

Apothic Dark Side California Red Wine Mixed Pack on Amazon

How to Smell Red Wine?

how to appreciate red wine

This is the part we’ve all seen, fancy dandies with their noses pressed into third-full glasses of wine, talking about lemon and blackberry, oakmoss, leather and chocolate cake. What the hell are they talking about?

Red wine doesn’t actually contain of these things, of course, but it is full of chemical compounds which mimic the smells of other, familiar things. How a wine smells is called its nose. It used to be that wine-lovers would call it a bouquet, but that’s kind of going out of fashion.

Which particular notes your red wine has, are determined by the variety of grape used, how the wine is matured and for how long, and what the wine is matured in (barrels, for example, add flavor to the wine depending on what’s been stored in them before, and what they’re made of.)

Common red wine notes include:

  • Chocolate
  • Tobacco
  • Berries
  • Lemon
  • Oak
  • Toffee
  • Pepper
  • Smoke
  • Plum

How to Act like You Know What You are Doing When Smelling Wine!

As for how to smell wine, you’ll want to fill your glass about a third of the way up, then, holding the stem, not the bowl (because you’ll warm the wine), swirl it around three to four times. Doing this increases the wine’s surface area and releases those chemical compounds into the glass. A wide-bottomed, narrow-topped glass is best for keeping those notes trapped inside. Once you’ve swirled, quickly dip your nose into the glass, and enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t catch any notes at all on your first few tries, it takes a lot of practice.

Groom+Style recommends:

Parducci Wine Cellars Classic 3 Bottle Red Wine Mixed Pack

How to Appreciate the Body?

red wine body

How best to describe the body of a wine? Imagine a well-done steak, versus a rare steak. They feel different in your mouth, one is softer, more buttery, the other is tougher, offers more feedback. With wine, body is about how it feels inside your mouth. Does it coat your tongue and cheeks? Does it slip down almost unnoticed?

After a few tries with different wines, you’ll gain a better understanding of what’s a full-bodied wine, and what’s not. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to body on a wine, it’s all down to personal preference. Knowing how to characterize red wine based on its body, can help you to decide which wine you ought to pair with which foods. If the wine is too strong, it’ll overpower the food, too weak and it’s not as satisfying.

There’s no real way to describe how to assess the body of a wine, because it’s so suggestive. Our best advice, is to hold the wine in your mouth and move it around. How does it feel?

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Groom+Style recommends:

2006 Louis Jadot – Echezeaux Grand Cru Burgundy

How to Taste Red Wine?

By now you should have a better understanding of the complexities of wine, and be ready to taste it. Don’t be surprised if the red wine you’ve chosen doesn’t taste the way it smells, they’re two different things. But, having said that, if you’ve ever seen wine buffs sucking air through their lips and wondered why, now you know, or at least, you can guess.

Pursing your lips and pulling air over the wine in your mouth, has the same effect as swirling it in the glass. You’ll release those chemical compounds, sending them into your throat and up into your nose. Doing this means you’ll get the full effect of both taste and smell, or nose, remember?

Look out for sweet notes first, then acidity, and finally bitterness. If you’re really paying attention, you’ll notice them on different parts of your tongue, before they combine to give you the full flavor effect of what is one of humankind’s finest inventions.

And again, there’s no right or wrong here. Tasting wine is a personal experience, and we don’t all share the same likes and dislikes. What matters, is that you have the knowledge and ability to appreciate the complexities of red wine, and that you use them to have your own fullest experience. Above all, just enjoy yourself, and don’t spit it out.



  • Lyndon Seitz

    Every office has its clown, and for us, that’s Lyndon. As a fun-loving guy who likes to take the pressure out of tense situations, we rely on him for comedic support to get us through our hardest days. You’ll find him working on a lot of our food-related posts, from drinks to recipe tips, right on down to kitchen fixtures and kitchen gadgets. If there’s one thing we can say about him, it’s that he makes a mean chicken milanese, and he can’t sing (don’t ask him to, we beg of you). Linkedin:

2 thoughts on “How to Fully Appreciate Red Wine”

  1. “Never hold a glass of wine by the bowl, always hold the stem”

    I know it’s just stock photos, but in the third pic the woman is holding the glass by the bowl.

    • Hi Steve,

      I guess once you know the rules, you are free to break them… 🙂 Hopefully, the important thing is she is enjoying a nice drop of red…

      Cheers Pierce

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