The most recent figures reveal that Americans love their wine. In fact, wine consumption on average is almost three gallons per year per resident!

That’s a total of almost 950 million gallons of wine consumed per year.

Have you been missing out on the party? Are you ready to increase your wine knowledge and get in on the fun?

Read our wine 101 guide and learn how to enjoy a glass of vino!

Glassware Matters

You can drink wine from any glass you like. But when it comes to tasting the wine, glassware matters. You can test this out yourself.

Take any bottle of wine you have handy. Don’t use expensive wine for this test. Pull out a paper cup, a plastic cup, a water glass, and a wineglass. Pour a little wine in each drinking vessel.

Close your eyes and take a sip of wine from the paper cup. Take a minute to taste and savor the wine. Move on to the plastic cup and try a sip.

You’ll be amazed at the difference you taste by the time you get to the wineglass. You’re almost ready to start investing in wine, but not quite!

Wineglasses come in about six different shapes.

There is stemware to complement each type of wine, about six types of glass.

You don’t need to rush out and buy all six types of stemware. But be aware that the shape of the wineglass matters. And wine tastes much better when not served in a plastic cup!

Understanding Varietals

The overwhelming majority of wine comes from grapes. There are over 1,300 varieties of grapes for commercial wine production. But most wine comes from about 100 grape varieties.

The most popular wine grape, and most planted, is Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine is fermented grape juice. Though wine is also made from other types of fruit as well.

If a bottle of wine comes from a different type of fruit, it will clearly say it on the label. If the label on the bottle only says “wine,” then it’s made from grapes.

You’ll hear wines referred to as New World and Old World wines. The Old World wines are labeled by the region from which they come.

For instance, Bordeaux wines come from the Bordeaux region of France. Two varietals grown there are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

New World wines are labeled by varietal, the type of grape.

Some common varietals are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sangiovese
  • Viognier

These are only a few of the varietals. There are many more! When you’re in the store, you’ll notice many wine “blends.” These are different types of varietals blended together.

Exploring a vineyard is a great way to see a varietal on the vine. It’s also the perfect place to learn about wine tasting.

Developing a Sense of Taste

Now you know a little about wine, what’s next? It’s time to taste! When it comes to tasting wine, there are a few things you’re looking for.

Taste in this order:

  • Look
  • Smell
  • Taste

After you pour the wine into a proper glass, hold the glass up and take a look at it.


Notice the color. Take in the hue and intensity of the color.

White wines run from pale straw to deep gold depending on the variety.

Red wines are pale pink to a deep rich red.

After noticing the color, swirl the wine around the glass. As the wine runs down the sides of the glass, notice the “legs.” These are the runnels of wine down the inside of the glass.

Sweet wines and wines with high alcohol content create more legs. These legs are the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. A wine with lots of legs will probably feel warm on the back of your throat due to the alcohol content.

After you’ve noted the color and legs, it’s time to take a good sniff.


There are at least five different aromas found in wine, each one with its own complexity. Put your nose over the glass and take a quick whiff. Note the intensity of the wine.

Position your nose a little further from the glass and try to identify individual aromas.

Sniff for fruit aromas, such as strawberry or raspberry. Try identifying several fruit aromas before moving on.

Now note other smells, such as herbs or spices. You might even smell coffee or pepper.

When wine is aged in oak barrels, you’ll smell other aromas like vanilla. Chocolate, cola, coconut, allspice, cedar, and even cigars are all aromas you might smell from wine aged in oak barrels.

The next smells to notice are aromas of the earth. Smells such as loamy soil and mushrooms are organic earthy smells you might pick up on. Don’t be surprised if you get aromas of chalk or slate.

These smells help identify the origin of the grapes. And now it’s time to taste the wine!


Take a good-sized sip of wine and swirl it around in your mouth. Think about how it feels in your mouth.

Note the sweetness. Do you feel a drying sensation on your lips? That’s the tannins in the wine.

Does the wine taste sour? Acidity is what makes wine sour. A high-acid wine tastes lighter and can be very tart.

If your throat gets warm or burns, that’s the alcohol. A great wine taster can judge the alcohol level of the wine by the way it feels in his throat!

After a couple of sips, note the overall body of the wine and any additional flavors. Now you’re ready to sit back and enjoy the wine!

Everyone’s tastes are different. You won’t like all the wines you taste. But after a while, you’ll get a sense of which wines are good.

The Wine 101 Guide

Congratulations, you’ve read the wine 101 guide, and you’re ready to taste some wine!

Get some proper stemware, pick out a few bottles of wine and taste. If you have a friend who knows about wine, invite him over to taste too.

Take your time and savor the experience. Remember to use all your senses. Look at the wine, smell it, swirl it, and taste it.

Enjoy! Looking for more articles? Peruse our blog here.

Spread the love