Wine 101: 5 S's of wine tasting and food pairings

By Marshanna Hester

May 8, 2013 Updated May 8, 2013 at 10:38 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Pour and drink is one way to taste wine.

But if you really want to stimulate your palate, there is a process to follow.

"The reason is just the quality of wine will have depth of flavor," said OJ Slavish, Hy-Vee's Wine and Spirits Manager.

It's called the 5 S's of wine tasting. They are: Sight, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Slurp.

OJ helped us break down each one, step-by-step.

First, sight. Put the glass up to the light and look at the color.

He says the darker it is, the heavier the wine.

"The different hues between white wine can range from light yellow to a weedy dark yellow. Red wines can be very pink to very ruby red," he said. "Red wines tend to be heavier in the mouth and white wines tend to be lighter."

Next, is the swirl. Make sure you hold the stem of the glass so you're hands don't warm the wine.

You can hold the glass in your hand or put it on a flat surface for more stability.

"That is going to get oxygen into the wine and it's going to come out and bring more of the smell out of the wine," said OJ. "Most of your taste actually comes from smell."

In red wine, OJ says the swirl can leave behind little spots on the side of the glass, called tannins. More tannins mean a drier wine.

He says you won't see tannins in white wine because the fermentation process is different.

That leads us to the third step, sniff. OJ says put your nose in the glass and take a deep breath.

In the Moscato, OJ said he could smell apples and other tropical fruits that make up the flavor of the sweet, white wine.

Now, you can actually taste.

The last two steps are sip and slurp, done almost simultaneously.

"We're going to sip a little bit of the wine into our mouth and you get a little bit of the flavor as it's just sitting there," OJ explained. "Then, the next step is the slurp, where you're putting more air into the wine by slurping it like you would soup.

And just like that, you've mastered the art of wine tasting: Sight, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Slurp.

OJ says there is also a traditional philosophy to wining and dining.

Red wines go with red meat and white wines go with white, like fish or chicken. Or in our case, a light summer salad.

But he says rules are meant to be broken.

"The Italian philosophy is whatever is on the table is what goes with your meal," OJ continued. "So if you like it, that's what goes with your dinner.

In next week's Wine 101, we'll show you where quality Vino is being made in Central Illinois and the industry's economic impact on the state.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.