Wine Tasting 101

Wine Tasting 101

Wine Tasting 101

Wine tasting can be an exciting and enjoyable experience for both seasoned wine lovers and beginners alike. However, if you’re new to the world of wine tasting, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this beginner’s guide to wine tasting, we’ll cover the basics of wine tasting and provide tips to help you get the most out of your experience.

1. Look, Swirl, Sniff, Sip

When it comes to wine tasting, there are four basic steps to follow: Look, Swirl, Sniff, and Sip. First, examine the wine’s color and clarity by holding it up to the light. Next, give the wine a swirl in your glass to release its aromas. Take a deep sniff of the wine to pick up its subtle aromas. Finally, take a sip and allow the wine to sit on your tongue for a moment before swallowing.

2. Taste with Your Senses

As you taste the wine, pay attention to its texture, body, acidity, and finish. Is it light-bodied or full-bodied? Does it have a crisp acidity or a smooth texture? Does it leave a lingering aftertaste or finish quickly? All of these factors will help you identify the wine’s characteristics and decide if you enjoy it.

3. Use Wine Vocabulary

When tasting wine, it’s helpful to use wine vocabulary to describe what you’re experiencing. Words like “fruity,” “spicy,” “earthy,” and “oaky” can help you articulate the flavors and aromas you’re experiencing. However, don’t be afraid to use your own words and describe the wine in a way that makes sense to you. It is also especially useful to lear the phrase “May I please revisit that wine”. hehe

4. Take Notes

You’ll be tasting several wines in one sitting, it can be helpful to take notes on each wine to keep track of what you liked and didn’t like. Jotting down the name of the wine, its vintage, and a brief description of its flavor profile can help you remember which wines you enjoyed and which ones you didn’t. Most wineries will provide you with tasting notes and descriptions. You may ask for a pen or bring one along with you.

5. Holding your glass

While even seasoned pros do this sometimes, don’t hold your glass by the bowl. That is a sure fire way for people to recongnize you are a “newbie”. Holding the glass by the stem, will eleviate this, the wine is served to you at optimum temperature, if you hold the bowl you will warm the wine up to your body temperature. Also, holding the wine glass by the stem allows you to easily swirl the wine in the glass to release the aromas of the wine.

If the tasting is served to you in a stemless glass all bets are off.

6. A wine’s legs?

You may have heard that wine has legs.The presence and appearance of legs in wine are influenced by several factors, including alcohol content, sugar content, viscosity, and surface tension. The most significant factor is alcohol content. Wine with higher alcohol content tends to have more pronounced legs because alcohol has a lower surface tension than water, causing it to flow more slowly down the glass.

While some people believe that the legs of a wine can indicate its quality, this is a common misconception. The formation of legs is primarily influenced by the wine’s alcohol content and other physical properties rather than its quality or taste. Legs are not an accurate indicator of a wine’s flavor, complexity, or overall excellence. Professional wine tasters focus on other factors such as aroma, taste, acidity, and balance to assess the quality of a wine. So, by asking about the wines legs can be another give away that you are new to the wine world, which is okay!

7. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions! The staff at the winery or vineyard is there to help you and answer any questions you may have about the wine or the wine-making process. Asking questions can also help you learn more about the wine and deepen your appreciation for it.

7. Considering purchases

While it is not mandatory to buy wine when wine tasting, it is considered good etiquette to purchase at least one bottle of wine as a thank you for the winery’s hospitality and for the opportunity to taste their wines. This is especially true if you have enjoyed the wine and the experience. 

Many wineries rely on sales to sustain their business, so buying a bottle of wine is a great way to support them and their hard work. Additionally, purchasing a bottle allows you to take home a little piece of the experience and enjoy it later.

However, if you didn’t enjoy the wine or if it’s outside your budget, it’s okay not to buy a bottle. You can still express your gratitude to the staff for their time and hospitality, and leave a positive review or refer friends and family to the winery. 

Ultimately, the decision to buy wine is up to you, and it’s important to feel comfortable and enjoy the experience without feeling pressured to make a purchase.

In conclusion, wine tasting is a fun and enjoyable experience that can be enjoyed by anyone. By following these simple tips and taking your time to savor each wine, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a wine tasting expert in no time.


We are here to make your day smooth and enjoyable, we have many years of experience and we can answer any of your queries, no question is a dumb question.




Recent Photos From Our Tours

Recent Photos From Our Tours

These are actual photos from our tours. These types of scenes and views are a daily occurrence on our wine tours. Join us for a feast of the senses.
Santa Barbara Wine Country is located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County.

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Welcome our newest Tour Host to the Stagecoach Team!

Welcome our newest Tour Host to the Stagecoach Team!

We are thrilled to Welcome Ozzie to our team. Building on our reputation as having the best tour hosts in Santa Barbara County!

Eric (Ozzie) Osmonson

Eric has been in the hospitality industry for most of his life. He holds a level 1 Sommelier Certificate from the International Sommelier Guild. He has been passionate about wine since his early 20s when he had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of 1987 Caymus Special Select with his Food & Beverage Director. That was his Wine wake-up call. Eric has a few serious passions in his life; First, his wife and two sons, Motorcycles, Kings Hockey, Wine (Obviously), Minnesota Vikings, Dodgers and Twins Baseball! He loves sharing his passion with everyone who will listen, making people laugh and enjoying themselves. He has been the Wine Buyer at the oldest family owned and operated store in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley for over six years now and loves getting to work in the mornings!

Why we feel it is important to hire a professional tour company.

Pinot Noir Harvest in Santa Barbara County

Pinot Noir Harvest in Santa Barbara County

This week in Santa Barbara Wine Country saw the beginning of Pinot Noir Harvest.

Usually, black grapes are harvested much later in the year, with the exception of pinot noir. The reason is due to the thin skin of the pinot noir grapes. These cool climate berries grow successfully in the western most area of Santa Barbara known as the Santa Rita Hills.

All pinot noir producers and growers will tell you they are the most difficult and demanding of grapes to grow.

For example, pinot noir doesn’t like it too hot, as the skin can peel and crack, just like ours when we have too much sun. They don’t like it too cold otherwise, they won’t ripen, also they don’t like it too wet because they are susceptible to mold and mildew.

Due to this finicky behavior, pinot noirs need to be monitored and maintained to a higher degree than any other grape, and this causes their price to be at a premium.

Harvesting Pinot Noir also requires greater attention to detail: smaller picking bins so that the clusters don’t get squashed before arriving at the wineries for processing. Unlike the white grapes like chardonnay that are also being harvested at the same time, pinot noir will spend at least 12 to 18 months in barrels before they are ready to drink.

Rhone-style Wines, California-style Scenery

Rhone-style Wines, California-style Scenery

Andrew Murray Vineyards/Wineries

One of the great privileges of conducting wine tours in Santa Ynez Valley is to visit and present a winery that is both a fine representation of our contemporary wine country but also an important part of its history. No winery fits this description better than Andrew Murray Vineyards on the Curtis Estate.

Winemaker Andrew Murray specializes in the wines of Rhone River Valley in the south of France, practicing his art in Santa Ynez Valley for more than 20 years. While he sources fruit from vineyards in Los Alamos and other subregions of the valley, he has since 2014 been based at the Curtis Estate, a vineyard of over 100 acres that was formerly the Firestone family’s Curtis Winery, a leading name in regional Rhone wines. Here, Andrew Murray has enhanced his international reputation as a craftsman of Rhone wines.

On the Curtis Estate, the Andrew Murray organization presents refreshing white wines such as Grenache Blanc and their Enchante, a crafted blend of Grenache Blanc and Rousanne. Single-varietal Grenache and Mouvedre are among the fine wines to be found here that you’d struggle to find in the hundreds of wineries in Napa, yet Andrew Murray’s several Syrah offerings are his best known.

But, now at the beginning of summer, nothing beats the Esperance Rose, a Cinsault-based classic to rival the best of Provence. On a Stagecoach wine tour you’ll enjoy the presentation of this and other excellent Andrew Murray wines by their exceptional hospitality staff, people who receive regular education and training by Andrew and his oenologist, McKenna, and look forward to sharing the joy of their vineyard’s fruit with you!