"How do I learn to speak wine?" It’s a surprisingly common question with a terribly unsatisfactory answer I’m afraid.

During all my years immersed in the world of wine I must admit to hearing this question over and over again. It’s a question without a specific answer. In fact it’s a question that can only be answered through a series of experiences.

Unlike math or English, for example, wine cannot be learned from a book. It must be experienced. In an effort to help move people along and guide them through their experiences, I am going to produce a series of articles that can serve as a study guide of sorts.

Wine is immensely complex, but as with any field of study you have to know the basic vocabulary, so that’s where we will start off on our journey. Each category of wine (white, red, rose, sparkling, and dessert) has its own unique terms, but there are some general terms that are helpful with all wines.

In order to maximize the benefits of tasting and analyzing wines it’s imperative that you keep good notes. You can find many styles of notekeeping books on the web or download one from Snooth.

The Basics of Tasting: Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Spit (Sometimes)

In order to fully appreciate a wine it’s a good idea to get familiar with the basic steps used to taste. Swirling the wine in the glass helps to release the aromas. You taste with your nose as well as your mouth, so take a deep sniff of the wine before taking your first sip. Once the wine is in your mouth make sure to let it spread all over your tongue, reaching all of your taste buds, so you don’t miss a thing.