Recently, twelve members of the Rathfinny team sat their WSET Level 2 exam and we’re delighted to share that every single person passed with flying colours. Well done team!

We’re always keen to invest in learning and development, so we enrolled staff from across the company to study a three-week programme with wine educator, Natalie Mirzoeff DipWSET from Wineology.

There’s undoubtedly an art to wine tasting but with practice and applying a systematic approach, anyone can pick up the tools to really appreciate all varieties of wine. Inspired by the WSET Level 2 ‘Systematic Approach to Wines’ – a framework for tasting and evaluating wines – here are some simple tips to consider when you next try a glass of your favourite wine!

Preparing for Tasting

Remember to clean your palette with water and avoid wearing scented perfumes that could distract you from the wine. If you want to do this professionally, ensure you have adequate lighting, a spittoon at hand and a notebook for your evaluations.

Select the Perfect Glass

The choice of stemware is very important when tasting wine. Choose a clean and transparent glass, with a rounded bowl for swirling the liquid that tapers towards the rim to capture the aromas. Hold the stem of the glass to prevent warming the wine with your hands.

Inspect the Appearance of the Wine

Before you sip, take a moment to observe the wine by examining its colour and intensity. These visual cues can offer hints about the wine’s age , grape variety, and overall quality. To inspect a white wine, hold your glass in front of you at a 45-degree angle and see how far the pigmentation of the wine reaches from the core in the deepest part of the bowl to the rim which is the shallowest depth of wine. A basic white wine colour scale stretches from a common light ‘lemon’ to ‘gold’ which show hints of orange and brown. An ‘Amber’ colour is particularly brown.

You can do the same with a red wine whilst also looking down through the glass to see if the stem is noticeable. If it is lightly pigmented from its rim to the core, it can be described as having a ‘pale’ colour intensity and ‘deep’ if you cannot see the stem. Again, a common red wine colour is ‘ruby’, followed by a ‘purple’, then ‘garnet’ if red dominates but there’s a noticeable brown presence. ‘Tawny’ describes a wine that’s more brown than red.

Smell the Wine

Taste and smell are invariably related when you enjoy a glass of wine. Gently swirl the wine in your glass to aerate it and inhale. Consider if the aromas are ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘pronounced’. You will detect primary aromas from the fermentation process such as florals, fruits of varying ripeness and varieties, spices and herbs. Sniff again and secondary aromas may jump out such as oak, malolactic conversion (e.g. butter and cream) and yeast. Tertiary flavours such as leather and gasoline indicate the ageing process and will impact the primary flavours as the fruit aromas smell more dried than fresh.

Appreciate the Finish

The finish of the wine is the feeling that lingers in your mouth. The length of the finish can give you an insight into the wine’s overall quality. A good quality wine will have a long, satisfying finish.

By following these tips, you can elevate your wine tasting experience and develop a deeper appreciation for the wines you love. Whether you’re planning to join us for a Tour & Tasting at Rathfinny Wine Estate or practising at home, let us know your thoughts and feedback on your wine tasting journey.