So, want to learn how to taste and evaluate a glass of wine like an expert? Easy. Follow our wine tasting tips below\u2014but before you start sipping, make sure you\u2019re in the right tasting environment. Here's what that means:\r\nGood Tasting Conditions\r\nFirst things first: Make note of the circumstances surrounding your wine tasting experience that may affect your impressions of the wine. For instance, a noisy or crowded room makes concentration difficult. Cooking smells, perfume and even pet odor can destroy your ability to get a clear sense of a wine\u2019s aromas. A glass that is too small, the wrong shape, or smells of detergent or dust, can also affect the wine\u2019s flavor.\r\n\r\nThe temperature of the wine will also have an impact on your impressions, as will the age of the wine and any residual flavors from whatever else you've been eating or drinking. You want to neutralize the tasting conditions as much as possible, so the wine has a fair chance to stand on its own. If a wine is served too cold, warm it with your hands by cupping the bowl. If a glass seems musty, give it a quick rinse with wine, not water, swirling it around to cover all the sides of the bowl. This is called conditioning the glass. Finally, if there are strong aromas nearby\u2014especially perfume\u2014walk as far away from them as you can and try to find some neutral air.\r\nEvaluating by Sight\r\nOnce your tasting conditions are as close to neutral as possible, your next step is to examine the wine in your glass. It should be about one-third full. Loosely follow these steps to\u00a0 evaluate the wine visually.\r\nStraight Angle View\r\nFirst, look straight down into the glass, then hold the glass to the light, and finally, give it a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. This will allow you to see the wine\u2019s complete color range, not just the dark center.\r\n\r\nLooking down, you get a sense of the depth of color, which gives a clue to the density and saturation of the wine. You will also learn to identify certain grapes by color and scent. A deeply-saturated, purple-black color might well be Syrah or Zinfandel, while a lighter, pale brick shade would suggest Pinot Noir or Sangiovese.\r\nSide View\r\nViewing the wine through the side of the glass held in light shows you how clear it is.\r\n\r\nA murky wine might be a wine with chemical or fermentation problems. On the other hand, it might just be a wine that was unfiltered or has some sediment due to be shaken up before being poured. A wine that looks clear and brilliant and shows some sparkle, is always a good sign.\r\nTilted View\r\nTilting the glass so the wine thins out toward the rim will provide clues to the wine\u2019s age and weight.\r\n\r\nIf the color looks quite pale and watery near its edge, it suggests a rather thin, possibly insipid wine. If the color looks tawny or brown (for a white wine) or orange or rusty brick (for a red wine) it is either an older wine or a wine that has been oxidized and may be past its prime.\r\nSwirl\r\nFinally, give the glass a good swirl. You can swirl it most easily by keeping it firmly on a flat surface; open air \u201cfreestyle\u201d swirling is not recommended for beginners.\r\n\r\nNotice if the wine forms \u201clegs\u201d or \u201ctears\u201d that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have good legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not.\r\n\r\n\r\nEvaluating by Sniff\r\nNow that you\u2019ve given the wine a good look, you\u2019re ready to take a good sniff. Give the glass a swirl, but don\u2019t bury your nose inside it. Instead, you want to hover over the top like a helicopter pilot surveying rush hour traffic. Take a series of quick, short sniffs, then step away and let the information filter through to your brain.\r\n\r\nThere are many guides to help you train your nose to identify key wine fragrances, both good and bad. There are potentially thousands of aroma components in a glass of good wine, so forget about finding them all. Naming all the fruits, flowers, herbs and other scents you can trowel out of the glass can be a fun game, but it\u2019s not essential to enjoying and learning how to taste wine.\u00a0 Once you\u2019ve taken a few quick, short sniffs of the wine, try to look for the following aromas, which will help you better understand the wine\u2019s characteristics.\r\nWine Flaws\r\n\r\nFirst, you want to look for off-aromas that indicate a wine is spoiled. A wine that is corked will smell like a musty old attic and taste like a wet newspaper. This is a terminal, unfixable flaw.\r\n\r\nA wine that has been bottled with a strong dose of SO2 will smell like burnt matches; this will blow off if you give it a bit of vigorous swirling.\r\n\r\nA smell of vinegar indicates VA (volatile acidity); a nail polish smell is ethyl acetate.\r\n\r\nBrettanomyces\u2014an undesirable yeast that reeks of sweaty saddle scents. A little bit of \u201cbrett\u201d gives red wines an earthy, leathery component; but too much obliterates all the flavors of fruit.\r\n\r\nLearning to identify these common flaws is at least as important as reciting the names of all the fruits and flowers. And it will also help you to understand your own palate sensitivities and blind spots. Discovering what you recognize and enjoy is key to learning how to choose wine on your own.\r\nFruit Aromas\r\nIf there are no obvious off-aromas, look for fruit aromas. Wine is made from grapes, so it should smell like fresh fruit, unless it is very old, very sweet, or very cold.\r\n\r\nYou can learn to look for specific fruits and grapes, and many grapes will show a spectrum of possible fruit scents that help you to identify the growing conditions\u2014cool climate, moderate or very warm\u2014of the vineyard.\r\nFlowers, Leaves, Herbs, Spices & Vegetables\r\nFloral aromas are particularly common in cool climate white wines like Riesling and Gew\u00fcrztraminer, and some Rh\u00f4ne varieties, including Viognier.\r\n\r\nSome other grapes can be expected to carry herbal or grassy scents. Sauvignon Blanc is often strongly grassy, while Cabernet Sauvignon can be scented with herbs and hints of vegetation. Rh\u00f4ne reds often show delightful scents of Proven\u00e7al herbs. Most people prefer that any herbal aromas are delicate. The best wine aromas are complex but also balanced, specific but also harmonious.\r\n\r\nAnother group of common wine aromas might be characterized as earthy. Scents of mushroom, damp earth, leather and rock can exist in many red wines. A mushroom smell can add nuance; it can also help you determine a possible grape or place of origin of the wine. Too much mushroom may just mean that the grapes failed to ripen sufficiently, or were from an inferior clone.\r\n\r\nThe scent of horse or tack room leather can be an accent, but too much can indicate brettanomyces.\r\n\r\nScents of earth, mineral and rock sometimes exist in the very finest white and red wines. These can be indications of \u201cterroir\u201d\u2014the particular conditions of the vineyard that are expressed as specific scents and flavors in the finished wine.\r\nWine Barrel Aromas\r\nIf you smell toast, smoke, vanilla, chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, or even caramel in a wine, you are most likely picking up scents from aging in new oak barrels.\r\n\r\nDepending upon a multitude of factors, including the type of oak, the way the barrels were made, the age of the barrels, the level of char and the way the winemaker has mixed and matched them, barrels can impart a vast array of scents and flavors to finished wines. Think of the barrels as a winemaker\u2019s color palette, to be used the way a painter uses tubes of paint.\r\nSecondary Aromas\r\nYoung white wines and young sparkling wines may have a scent very reminiscent of beer. This is from the yeast.\r\n\r\nSome dessert wines smell strongly of honey; this is evidence of botrytis, often called noble rot, and is typical of the very greatest Sauternes.\r\n\r\nChardonnays that smell of buttered popcorn or caramel have most likely been put through a secondary, malolactic fermentation, which converts malic to lactic acids, softening the wines and opening up the aromas.\r\n\r\nOlder wines have more complex, less fruity aromas. A fully mature wine can offer an explosion of highly nuanced scents, beautifully co-mingled and virtually impossible to name. It is pure pleasure.\r\n\r\nNonetheless, the effort to put words to wine aromas helps you focus on, understand and retain your impressions of different wines. You want to build a memory bank of wine smells and their meanings. That is where the language of wine can add value to a wine tasting event. Learning to talk the talk, if not carried to extremes, helps to dispel some wine myths, such as the confusion surrounding descriptions on wine labels. Have you ever known anyone to ask why a winery added grapefruit to its Gew\u00fcrztraminer and raspberries to its Zinfandel? The fact that these are simply descriptive terms is not always understood.\r\n\r\n\r\nEvaluating by Taste\r\nIt\u2019s finally time to taste! Take a sip, not a large swallow, of wine into your mouth and try sucking on it as if pulling it through a straw. Ignore the stares of those around you; this simply aerates the wine and circulates it throughout your mouth.\r\n\r\nAgain, you\u2019ll encounter a wide range of fruit, flower, herb, mineral, barrel and other flavors, and if you\u2019ve done your sniffing homework, most will follow right along where the aromas left off. Aside from simply identifying flavors, you are also using your taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.\r\nBalanced\r\nA balanced wine should have its basic flavor components in good proportion. Our taste buds detect sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.\r\n\r\nSweet (residual sugar) and sour (acidity) are obviously important components of wine. Saltiness is rarely encountered and bitterness should be more a feeling of astringency (from tannins) than actual bitter flavors.\r\n\r\nMost dry wines will display a mix of flavors derived from the aromas, along with the tastes of the acids, tannins and alcohol, which cannot generally be detected simply by smell.\r\n\r\nThere is no single formula for all wines, but there should always be balance between the flavors. If a wine is too sour, too sugary, too astringent, too hot (alcoholic), too bitter, or too flabby (lack of acid) then it is not a well-balanced wine. If it is young, it is not likely to age well; if it is old, it may be falling apart or perhaps completely gone.\r\nHarmonious\r\nA harmonious wine has all of its flavors seamlessly integrated. It\u2019s quite possible, especially in young wines, for all the components to be present in the wine in good proportion, but they stick out. They can be easily identified, but you can feel all the edges; they have not blended together. It\u2019s a sign of very good winemaking when a young wine has already come together and presents its flavors harmoniously.\r\nComplex\r\nComplexity can mean many things. Your ability to detect and appreciate complexity in wine will become a good gauge of your overall progress in learning how to taste wine.\r\n\r\nThe simplest flavors to recognize\u2014very ripe, jammy fruit and strong vanilla flavors from various oak treatments\u2014are reminiscent of soft drinks. It is perfectly natural for new wine drinkers to relate to them first, because they are familiar and likeable. Some extremely successful wine brands have been formulated to offer these flavors in abundance. But they do not offer complexity.\r\n\r\nComplex wines seem to dance in your mouth. They change, even as you\u2019re tasting them. They are like good paintings; the more you look at them the more there is to see. In older wines, these complexities sometimes evolve into the realm of the sublime. The length of a wine, whether old or young, is one good indication of complexity. Simply note how long the flavors linger after you swallow. You might even try looking at your watch if you have a particularly interesting wine in your glass. Most beginning wine drinkers move on too quickly to the next sip when a really good wine is in the glass. Hold on! Let the wine finish its dance before you change partners.\r\nComplete\r\nA complete wine is balanced, harmonious, complex and evolved, with a lingering, satisfying finish. Such wines deserve extra attention, because they have more to offer, in terms of both pleasure and training, than any others you will taste.\r\n\r\nNow that you understand the basic steps with our wine tasting tips, it\u2019s time to experiment on your own. It can be quite helpful to build a wine journal of your adventures. Write complete tasting notes for wines you like and dislike. Noting the characteristics that each wine shares will be immensely helpful as you start learning how to choose wine on your own. Cheers!