Opinions differ on the best order in which to taste different styles of wines, but there are a few golden rules, as Andy Howard MW explains.

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Wine tasting order – ask Decanter

Alistair McGlynn, Edinburgh, asks: At wine events, the bottles are usually lined up from sparkling first to dessert wines at the end, but I’ve noticed some people taste red wines first then go back to whites. Is this personal preference or is there some merit in it?’

Andy Howard MW replies: Fundamentally, the order of tasting is up to the individual.

I often find it better to taste red wines first, as one’s palate gets jaded after many wines and it can sometimes be easier to taste a fresh white after the reds, than to do it the other way round. But that’s just my opinion.

I think it’s important to taste more delicate wines before richer, heftier styles, so taste Pinot Noir before Syrah or Cabernet.

Similarly, fragrant whites would usually go before oaky white wines.

Another key thing is to taste dry to sweet, as sugar coats the palate and can make dry wines taste sharp or bitter.

Sparkling wines can also be used to freshen the palate, but try to taste these as soon as possible after they’re opened, in order to experience the mousse at its peak.


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