Wine Tasting Tips From a Philly Expert

Sniff, swirl and sip like a pro.

5 easy steps to make wine tasting less intimidating / Photograph by Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The nitty-gritty mechanics behind wine tasting often feel … snooty. But there are reasons for it all. Good King Tavern and Le Caveau co-owner Chloe Grigri, who oversees both establishments’ wine programs, shares how to (quite literally) drink wine — and have fun doing it, too. Illustrations by Kyle Hilton.

1. The Swirl

Hold the bottom of the glass and swirl it vigorously in a circle. Keep the foot firmly on the table. This process introduces oxygen to the wine and allows it to open up, which makes it taste and smell better. You’ll be able to swirl more easily if you’re using a proper wineglass rather than, say, a mug.

2. The Sniff

Stick your nose into the glass immediately after swirling. Don’t lean your entire face in, but make sure you can get a good whiff.

3. Deep Thoughts

Notice what you smell. Does it remind you of any fruit? Maybe Froot Loops? Or summertime? Identifying smells will help you develop a fuller understanding of what you’re tasting.

4. The First Sip

Take a sip, then swirl again. Wine develops in the glass; as it sits, you’ll notice new flavors.

5. Got Legs?

Tip your glass and watch how the droplets glide along the side. These “legs” show the liquid’s viscosity, which relates to how alcoholic your selection is. The more legs, the higher the wine is in alcohol.

>> Click here to return to The Philadelphian’s Guide to Pennsylvania Wine.

Published as “What’s Up With All the Sniffing and Swirling?” in the October 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.