Consider Wine Like a Master Sommelier


When we met with Dennis Haley BS’99, sommelier and cellar master at III Forks Steakhouse, for the spring 2017 feature “The Business of Wine,” he provided some expert tips to fully enjoy a bottle of wine:

  • When first opening a bottle, examine the cork for “runners” — imperfections or splits — Haley said. If you notice them, check to see if any of the wine has seeped into the runners, indicating the quality of the wine may have been compromised.
  • After pouring, examine the aesthetic quality of the wine: Is it cloudy or hazy? What is the color? Haziness could indicate re-fermentation or flaws, but also could mean the wine has not been filtered, such as an older red wine where sediment mixed into the solution. Next, notice the hue. The general rule of color for wine is that a white wine deepens in color as it ages, while a red wine gets lighter.
  • Before tasting the wine, give it a good, strong swirl in the glass. This action “releases the bouquet” of aromatic elements, Haley said, and aerates the wine.
  • When you are ready to taste the wine, don’t. Hold the glass to your nose and simply breathe it in to examine the “notes.” What aromatic elements do you identify? Oak, cedar, cherry, citrus, florals, etc. Compare these notes to the way the wine tastes, and determine if what you identified matches the palette.