The Five S’s of Wine Tasting: See – Swirl – Sniff – Sip – Savor

Wine tasting should be rewarding and memorable. It should excite the senses, and most importantly, it should be fun. Even though many just assume that wine tasting is sipping, swishing, and swallowing – many are amazed to find that it is actually a bit more.

Wine tasting is more of an art, and when done correctly, is quite fun.

So then, how do you taste and evaluate a glass of wine?
Take charge of the wine experience and try your chances as a master sommelier
with the 5 S’s : See – Swirl – Sniff – Sip – Savor

See the Color

color-wine-tasting-seeA wine’s color is better judged by putting it against a white background. The wine glass is put at an angle in order to see the colors.  Colors can give the taster clues to the grape variety, and whether the wine was aged in wood.

Observe the color and clarity of the wine. Hold the glass up to a white background in a well-lighted room. Notice if the wine is clear and brilliant or cloudy and dull. The intensity of color within each varietal gives the drinker an idea of how the wine will taste. As a general rule, color saturation tends to go hand in hand with flavor intensity.





Without having tasted the wines, one does not know if, for example a white wine is heavy or light. Before taking a sip, the taster tries to determine the order in which the wines should be assessed by appearance and nose alone.  Heavy wines will be deeper in color and generally more intense on the nose.  Sweeter wines, being denser will leave thick, viscous streaks (called legs or tears) down the inside of the glass when swirled.


wine-tasting-sniffSmell is the main sense used in wine tasting, so sniffing the wine before the initial step is essential. A wine’s quality can be judged by its bouquet and taste. The bouquet is the total aromatic experience of the wine. Assessing a wine’s bouquet can also reveal faults such as cork taint, oxidation due to age, overexposure to oxygen, or lack of preservatives and wild yeast contamination. Pausing to experience a wine’s bouquet aids the wine taster in anticipating the wine’s flavors. The “nose” of a wine – its bouquet or aroma – is the major determinate of perceived flavor in the mouth.

Consider what you are smelling. What does the aroma remind you of? Fruits or vegetables? Herbs or spices? Let the smell take you to a time and experience.


sip-wine-tasting-pippin-hillTake a slightly larger sip than usual and hold the wine in your mouth for 3-5 seconds letting it coat the surface. Once inside the mouth, the aromatics are further liberated by exposure to body heat, and transferred retronasally to the olfactory receptor site.  It is here that the complex taste experience characteristic of a wine actually commences.

Thoroughly tasting a wine involves perception of its array of taste and mouthfeel attributes, which involve the combination of textures, flavors, weight, and overall “structure”.  Following appreciation of its olfactory characteristics, the wine taster savors a wine by holding it in the mouth for a few seconds to saturate the taste buds. By pursing ones lips and breathing through that small opening oxygen will pass over the wine and release even more esters. When the wine is allowed to pass slowly through the mouth it presents the connoisseur with the fullest gustatory profile available to the human palate.


pippin-hillThe finish is the sensation you get from actually swallowing the wine and it can be very different from the taste you get on your palate.  What you want to look for is an alcohol taste (there shouldn’t be one) and the length of time the wine taste stays with you. This length of time is called the finish and some wines can linger for as long as a minute. Also consider the balance of the wine; do any tastes dominate or is this a well-defined bottle.

Topics: Charlottesville, Charlottesville VA Wine, On the Hill, Virginia, White Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pippin Hill Wine Club Spring Celebration – Friday, April 25th at 5:30 PM


Pippin Hill Wine Club Spring Celebration
Friday, April 25th – 5:30-7:30 PM
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

This Friday, April 25th we will be hosting a special evening at Pippin Hill
exclusively for our valued Wine Club Members

spring canapes ~ new release wine sampling ~ live music
memorable sunset on the Veranda

Sign up to be a member of our wine club community and join us this Friday for an exclusive sampling of our Vintner’s Meritage Reserve 2012 paired with our croque monsieur featuring Virginia country ham, gruyére, and merlot & onion jam. We will also be serving our famous crispy chesapeake oysters and bruschetta with garden gardiniere.

If you are not yet a wine club member, now is the time to join!
Sign up today and attend this spring celebration with a guest. Should your guest also choose to join the wine club during the evening, take home a bottle of Pippin Hill wine as a gift from your friends here on The Hill.

Email by Thursday, April 24th to join our wine club, and attend this special evening at Pippin Hill. Check in with your wine club member number will be required.

pippin-hill-wine-club IMG_4761

Topics: Charlottesville, Charlottesville VA Wine, Events, On the Hill, Private Events, Things to Do, Virginia, Wine, Wine Tasting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Sunday Spring Celebration – This Sunday, April 20th


Chévre Tortellini ~ Winemaker’s Select White Blend ~ Live Music

This Sunday, you can have all the colored eggs in the world, lamb chops stacked high,  an abundance of jellybeans… or, you can stray from the standard holiday traditions and form new rituals that are all your own. Why not start with tasting a tortellini that is the essence of spring? Chef’s select tortellini – our featured dish this Easter Sunday at Pippin.

Executive Chef Amalia Scatena has a knack for letting simple flavors shine. Grilled ramps, spring peas and thumbelina carrots abound with our house made pasta shells and locally-sourced Chevre, all making for a showstopper of an afternoon lunch—the kind that leaves friends and family clamoring to know the secret and wanting more. This is a plate to be enjoyed in good company over a glass of Pippin Hill’s Winemaker’s Select White Blend, in celebration  with friends and family.

This year, create a new Easter experience with your friends on The Hill. Look out over a sun speckled Shenandoah valley, sip on a glass of our many varietals, and listen to a live musical performance by Gina Sobel.  Isn’t it good to be in Charlottesville in the springtime?! We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Until then, Happy Easter!


Topics: Catering, Charlottesville VA Wine, Chefs Corner, Events, Holiday Events, Lunch, music on the hill, New Menu Item, On the Hill, Our Food, Tasting Room Lunch Menu, Things to Do, Upcoming Events, Weekend, Weekend Plans, White Wine, Wine, Winery & Vineyard Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding Wednesday – A Breath of Spring


Spring is here and that means, wedding season is upon us!

We are kicking off the month of April with a look back at this blissful Spring wedding.

Imagine paradise…only this paradise is at your fingertips.
Have a seat, and lose yourself in the unreal views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lounge in the courtyard on plush cushions with a berried bliss mojito in one hand, and blue crab and roasted corn salad in the other.
Step into the granary and dance the night away among twinkling lights and live music.

It doesn’t get much better than a stunning backdrop, unforgettable five star cuisine, and your friends and family together at Pippin Hill.

We are ready for the season, and for more evenings in paradise.


Topics: Catering, Charlottesville VA Wine, Events, Florals, On the Hill, Private Events, Virginia, Wedding Wednesday, Wine, Winery & Vineyard Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment