This is going to be fun! A small amount of “work” is required… so pour yourself a glass, we are going to study your wine of choice!
The first step is to observe the color of the wine in the center of the glass. Raise your glass to observe at a 45 degree angle. The true color of the wine will be found in the center of the glass. With reds, the darker the color means the the wine will be full bodied, have a bold flavor and will most likely be aged in oak- the color comes from spending more time with the grape skins. The lighter the red, the brighter and tarter the flavors will be. Typically with white wines, lighter color reflects a crisp and refreshing taste while the darker ones, again, have been aged in an oak barrel.
Swirling the glass is an important step. It releases the wine’s aromatic compounds as well as the tannins, making it easier to drink. Once you have swirled the wine in the glass you can make several observations by smell. Red wines typically have notes of red and black fruit while white wines typically have notes of citrus or tropical hints. Earth tones are common as well, you can get notes of floral, spice and herbs as well as a secondary aroma from fermentation.
Streaks on the glass simply indicate the volume of the wine. The more streaks, the more alcohol content.
Lastly, a note on Decanting and Aerating. Wines benefit from softening in a decanter after being bottled up for too long. Decanting releases compounds and soften the flavors in the wine.
One of the main reasons to complete all of these steps before enjoying your glass of wine is to learn about it first. By doing so, you’re beginning to understand which notes satisfy your palate. This can help you in the future when choosing wine at a restaurant or picking out something new to try!