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Sniff, Swirl, Spit: Wine Tasting Tips For Beginners

If you've never visited a tasting room before because it's too intimidating, don't freak out. Here are some basic tips to help you feel like a pro, thanks to Alea Curtis from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Remember, the tasting room staff is there to help, not make you feel like a newbie. There's no such thing as a stupid question. It helps if you follow these steps:

1) See

Hold up the glass and note the color, checking for clear, crispness. Cloudy wine can be flawed.

2) Swirl

This releases the aromas in the wine, the chemical components that often remind tasters of common fruits, earthy fragrances and spices.

3) Smell

Breathe deeply because this is a big part of the experience. No, you don't look silly with your nose stuck in a glass.

4) Sip

Take a swig and swish it around in your mouth, hitting all the sensory spots on your tongue.

5) Spit

This allows you to keep your palate sharp and taste more wines.

If you find a wine you love, take a photo of the label or make a note on the tasting sheet, which is a great way to remember your favorites.

If you need inspiration for packing a picnic to munch on during a wine tasting tour, check out these easy-to-make, portable dishes.

Ste Michelle tasting room photo by Leslie Kelly

Ste. Michelle's tasting room in Woodinville, Wash., is a perfect place to try your new wine sampling skills.

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!