Following a few simple steps will lead to a greater understanding of what you’re drinking, and hopefully help you put some words to what you experience when you drink wine.

1. Look at the color and texture of the wine. Color changes as wine ages, “legs” show viscosity.

2. Give the glass a swirl to release the aromas and take a big sniff. The nose is as important as the tongue in tasting. What do you smell? Experiment by smelling crushed berries, tobacco, leather, citrus fruit and other common wine aromas so you can identify those scents in wine.

3. Take a big sip and swirl it around your mouth. Different parts of the tongue distinguish different flavors, so it’s important to move it around and let it be in there awhile. Swallow and notice how quickly your mouth fills with saliva. A more acidic wine will cause it to fill quicker.

4. Now think about the flavors that linger in your mouth after you swallow. This is called the finish. Higher quality wines have a longer and more complex finish.

5. Decide whether or not you like the wine. If so, why? If not, why?