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  • Writer's pictureHunter Valley Day Tours

The 5 S’s Of Wine Tasting: Unleash Your Inner Sommelier On Hunter Valley Day Tours

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

When it comes to the art of wine tasting on Hunter Valley day tours, your approach to the process can be as serious as you like—or not at all. The benefits of understanding some of the etiquettes and the techniques behind tasting wine 'properly' versus just drinking for fun are: Firstly, to equip you with the knowledge to express your preferences, and secondly, wine has been around for centuries. It's a complex drink with layers of flavour and aroma that can take years to perfect. Inside it, you can find history, art and science all bottled into one.

When embarking on a Hunter Valley Private, Custom Or Pre Packaged day tour, you can enhance the experience by channelling your inner sommelier to evaluate each glass of wine with the 5 S's: See – Swirl – Sniff – Sip – Savour.


Examining wine in the glass may help foretell a lot of what you can expect on the nose and palate. A wine's colour, depth and intensity can reveal its age, grape variety, concentration, character and overall style.

Examine the wine's colour and clarity. In a well-lit room, hold the glass up to a white background. Take note of whether the wine is clear and sparkling or hazy and dull. As a rule, colour saturation tends to indicate flavour intensity.


Swirling your glass allows oxygen to open to "open up" the wine by aerating it. This alluring art unveils the subtleties and complexities in wine and enhances its flavour intensity.

A preliminary assessment is done by nose and appearance alone; this also indicates to the Sommelier the sequence in which wines should be tested and evaluated.

Swirling can indicate what to expect in a flavour profile. Heavy wines are often deeper in colour and intense on the nose. Sweeter wines carry a density that, when swirled, leaves thick, viscous streaks down the inside of the glass.


Don't be afraid to settle your nose deep into your glass, take a deep take a deep breath, and analyse what you smell. Full-bodied wines will deliver a more robust bouquet of aromas, whereas the fragrances in lighter and more crisp wines tend to be shyer. Ask yourself, is it fruity? Is it earthy in flavour? Is it crisp? Is there a warmth to the fragrance? If you continue to swirl the glass, you'll be able to elevate flavours and further analyse your findings.

The fragrance boquet also disclose a winemaker’s skills with regards to corking, balancing oxidation caused by age, preventing overexposure to air and preservation techniques.

Remember that with all of the 5 S's, analysis is very subjective; there are no wrong answers.


Taking time to enjoy a wine's fragrance helps the wine taster anticipate the wine's tastes. Just as with the previous steps, there is a proper technique for sipping wine.

Take a little larger-than-usual sip and keep it in your mouth for 3-5 seconds and allow it to coat the inside of your mouth. Then, by swirling it around in your mouth, you'll allow the wine to reach all of the parts of your tongue.

To begin with, you will be able to assess levels of acidity, sweetness and bitterness. Next, you'll notice the texture: Some wines have a round, mouth-coating texture, and some will have a sharper texture that shoots down the tongue.

It's at this stage that you start identifying flavour profiles:

  • Primary characteristics - For example, fruit, floral and spice.

  • Secondary characteristics - These are barrel fermentation related flavours.

  • Tertiary characteristics - These flavours develop with bottle aging, e.g. an earthiness, a nuttiness or tobacco tones.


With high-quality wines, the experience doesn't end with the last sip. A good wine will linger on the pallet. At the savour stage, you're assessing how long taste lasts.

Identify whether it has a short finish or a more lingering finish. Assess the flavours that linger and the way the wine tastes. Did the flavours and fragrances balance out, or did any of the characteristics overshadow others? Finally, and most importantly, did you enjoy the wine, and why?

Unleash Your Inner Sommelier

Equipped with the basic understanding of the 5 S's of wine tasting, you're ready to embark on one of our Hunter Valley day tours. At Hunter Valley Winery Tours, we are passionate about creating unique and unforgettable experiences. Our expert tour guides offer in-depth knowledge about the Hunter Valley and have independent relationships with all of the region's best wineries and venues, from the major wineries to all the hidden gems you've never heard of.

Unleash your inner sommelier and savour your wine tasting experience like a pro. Discover our range of Hunter Valley Day Tours, Winery Tours & Experiences.


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