Ask Marisa: What do you think is the best way to learn about wine?

Marisa Sergi, Chief Growth Officer, L’uva Bella Winery, was recently selected by FORBES for its prestigious annual “30 Under 30 Awards” recognition. 

Question: My knowledge of wine is rather limited, but I’d like to learn more as we head into the height of the holiday season. What do you think is the best way to learn about wine? 

Chuck N, Lakewood 

The best way to learn about wine is to start slow and build your base knowledge of reds, whites and roses through understanding the following: 

  • How to describe a wine - i.e., tastings notes 
  • basics of wine tasting / evaluation 

To accomplish this, I highly suggest that you purchase and or download the wine aroma wheel.  

The wine aroma wheel was provided to me and my classmates while studying winemaking at Cornell University and turned everyone from a "novice taster" to an "expert" over time.  


Each opportunity you have a chance to taste wine, pull it out or keep it available on your cell phone so the wheel can guide you during your experience.  The wheel is great to help you identify "what is that smell" and allows you to build from saying "I smell fruit!" to "I smell grapefruit, stone fruit and green bell pepper!"  The wheel can also assist in your tasting skills in a similar fashion. 

Another great basic skill is to understand the "Five S's of Wine Tasting"  

  • See 
  • Swirl 
  • Sniff 
  • Sip 
  • Spit *optional* 

When evaluating a wine, a basic indicator on what to expect comes from the color (See).  Is the wine white, red or a rose? Red wines typically have red fruit notes and can often be more complex in structure.  Whites are often full of floral and citrus fruit notes, but some varieties, such as Chardonnay, can be more complex so do not let color be a "tell all."  

To help release the "smells" aka aromatics, next, swirl your wine.  After 3-5 seconds of swirling, smell (sniff) the wine and use your wine aroma wheel to guide you on extracting what you perceive in the glass.  

Next, which is my favorite part, is to sip! Slowly take your first taste and hold the liquid in your mouth for a few seconds.  After either spitting or swallowing, consider what notes you experienced on your pallet - what type of fruit flavors were profound?   

As you continue to go through this process, you will gain more confidence in your abilities and soon build the knowledge to no longer need assistance from the wheel.   

Practice makes perfect - head to Sweet Designs and explore what wine selections they have to offer.  SD has fine wines from all over the world that you can start your wine tasting journey with!  Carly is SD's in-house wine expert and can provide suggestions on what to try first. Cheers!  

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