How to be a Wine Snob

Sight, swirl, smell and sip. These are the four basic steps to wine tasting, but what are you actually looking for when you do these steps? Here is a basic guide to wine drinking and tasting.

When you are first trying a new wine, pour a small amount into a glass and tilt it at an angle. Color typically is a good indication of the age of the wines. As red wine ages, you will see hints of reddish-brown around the edges. White wines become more golden as they age.

Next, swirl the wine in the glass, which allows oxygen to flow through the liquid. Once you have done this, raise the glass to about an inch below the nose and inhale, taking in the scent of the wine. Smell and taste are very closely connected and the smell of each wine varies.

Tasting is the final step. Take a small sip and allow the flavors of the wine to touch your palette. Determine if the wine is sweet or dry, tart or acidic, or identify certain flavors that were used to make the wine.

Here are the basics in wines, the tastes they should represent and the best dishes to pair styles of wine with.


Tastes like: Tropical fruits, with a buttery finish. Medium-to-light-bodied dry wines

Best when paired with: pork, chicken, seafood, strong cheeses, turkey and salads

-Sauvignon Blanc

Tastes like: Citrus, tropical fruits, herbs, gooseberries. Tart and tangy

Best when paired with: salads, vegetables and fish

-Pinot Grigio (Gris)

Tastes like: lemons, green apples, pears, light-bodied. Medium-dry, fruity, crisp wines

Best when paired with: salads, light fish, light cheeses, white sauces and fish


Tastes like: apples, pears, flowers, minerals. Light-bodied and can range from dry to very sweet

Pair it with: fish, cheeses, chicken and desserts (for sweet Riesling)

-Cabernet Sauvignon

Tastes like: cassis, black currants, herbs, and ginger. Full-bodied and dry

Best when paired with: beef, lamb, stews gorgonzola cheese and dark chocolate

-Pinot Noir

Tastes like: cherries, strawberries, spices, flowers. Medium sweetness and heavy-to-medium-bodied

Best when paired with: salmon, tuna, pork and mushrooms


Tastes like: black cherries, plums, spices. Dry, heavy-to-medium-bodied wines with less acidity than most reds

Best when paired with: grilled meats, duck, sausage and red sauces


Tastes like: blackberries, black pepper, spices. Heavy-bodied wines with medium sweetness

Best when paired with: chicken, BBQ, curries and spicy sausages


Tastes like: sweet, rich and medium-bodied

Best when paired with: desserts.

Some wine tasting in the D.C. metro area can be found at the following locations: Veramar Vineyard

Address: 905 Quarry Road Berryville, Va.

Telephone: 540-955-5510

Wine tasting every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. About an hour drive from D.C.


Address: 1990 M St. NW Washington, D.C.

Telephone: 202-659-1990

Every Monday-Friday from 5 7 p.m. Come and taste different wines; usually three wines are tasted each night.

Elk Run Vineyard

Address: 15113 Liberty Road, Mount Airy, Md.

Telephone: 800-414-2513

Wine tastings are held April through November, Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Frederick Cellars

Address: 221 N. East St. Frederick, Md.

Telephone: 301-668-0311

Hours for wine tasting are Tuesday-Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday–Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m.

Ingleside Vineyards

Address: 5872 Leedstown Road, Oak Grove, Va.

Telephone: 804-224-8687

Complimentary tours along with wine tasting are available Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.

Contact Us