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Want to know how to taste like a pro? Five basic stages of wine tasting

Examine the wine to enjoy the colour and to gauge its intensity

1. EXAMINE THE WINE

Pour your wine into a glass you like and take a good look. Tilt the glass and hold it against a white background or in natural daylight to appreciate the colour. Why? Firstly, to enjoy the colour, secondly, to see the intensity. A white wine the colour of straw usually indicates it's had some ageing or oak influence. A pale white has usually been aged in stainless steel. Deep inky reds usually have good tannin structure, paler reds higher acidity.

2. SMELL IT

Give the wine a good swirl and take a small sniff. Swirl again to release the aromas and inhale slowly to assess – aromas are a good indication as to how the wine will taste and give you a clue as to whether you're going to like it. The more familiar you become with a wine's aromatics, the more you'll be able to identify it like the pros. If you smell something musty or unpleasant, you'll know the wine is corked.

3. TAKE A SIP

Don't be timid: Take a medium-sized sip so you can flood the palate, and then take a little air through your mouth to separate the aromas from the wine and really appreciate the fruit before swallowing. Swirl the glass again, take another smell, sip and repeat. Along with tasting with your tongue, the nose is just as sensitive.

4. THINK ABOUT THE WINE

Some wines are immediately bold and upfront while others are shy and need a little time to evolve. Think about the sweetness; is it medium or dry? The acidity; is it mouth watering? The tannin structure; is it velvety smooth or firm with a hint of saddle leather? The body; is it full or light? Is it complex? Wine professionals love to use this word 'complex' to describe a wine, that's well, difficult to describe, with lots of different flavours and aromas. How does it end – is there a smoky tail on the finish?

5. DRINK OR SPIT IT OUT

Nobody wants to waste a good wine, so unless you're at a wine tasting and going through dozens of bottles, savour every sip. Chances are, if it's a wine you really love, it'll be gone before you've had a chance to read the label. Cheers!

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