Tasting wine is super simple, as long as you remember your six S's:
SWIRL the wine in the glass, looking at the viscosity, clarity, color, and brilliance of the wine (they vary quite a bit). To swirl, rotate your wrist and hold the rest of your arm still. The swirling action releases the wine's aromas and gets them circulating where you can smell them.
Stick as much of your nose into the glass as you can, and SNIFF deeply (looks silly, but works wonders). Most of the “flavor” we perceive with our mouths actually comes through our sense of smell. Swirl the wine again. Take another sniff, and try to identify any familiar smells. Swirl-sniff again if you’d like, but give your nose a few seconds off to rest between each round.
SIP a small amount of the wine, and roll it over your tongue a few seconds. Focus on the difference in texture and sensation.
SWISH the wine around inside your mouth to activate all your taste buds. Notice where you feel sensations of sweetness, bitterness, acidity, and the dry grip of tannin.
SWALLOW the wine. (At last!) Breathe out through your nose as you swallow, so your taste buds and sense of smell can work together. Notice how long you can “taste” the wine after you’ve swallowed it—the finest wines tend to have the longest finish. Repeat S’s #1-5 again, a second time.
SPIT your subsequent sips into the spit bucket provided by the winery. Seriously. Most people (and all industry professionals) swallow at most one or two sips of each wine to get a sense of it, and then spit out the rest after the swishing step. It’s the only way to make it through multiple tastings with your senses intact. Trust us! (Another pro tip: don’t try for a three-pointer with your spitting. Get close to the bucket.)