44 Live: The 5 S's

Apr. 18, 2017

Wine with higher level of alcohol with hang longer on the side of the glass. Young white wines tend to be greenish and young red wines are purplish. Smell is the most acute sense and is about 1000x more sensitive than taste.

In order to properly describe or even appreciate the aspects that any given wine can offer, you really need to dissect and evaluate countless characteristics. Everything from acidity, alcohol, smooth, dry, light-bodied, red, white, clean, crisp, hints of different organics and the list goes on and on. So somewhere along the line in wine history there was a simpler system developed to help each and every wine drinker, regardless of experience, receive a greater appreciation for any given glass. We call this system the 5 S’s including SEE, SWIRL, SMELL, SIP and SAVOR, and we use this to maximize our senses and really appreciate what that wine has to offer.

See & Swirl

This is where we use our sight to give clues to the flavor of the wine. As you see and swirl that glass of wine, you’ll notice the color helps give us the grape varietal and the age of the wine. Young white wines are more greenish and become more golden over time and young red wines are purplish and become more of a brick red over time. As you swirl, the wine that tends to hang longer of the side of the glass if there is more alcohol. With less alcohol the wine will immediately drop and form at the bottom of the glass.


This is the most acute of the five senses, and is about 1000 times more sensitive than that of taste, making it the most influential factor in the flavor you receive. What a skillful winemaker will do is “add structure to odor.” This means taking a certain smell and turn it into a memory, a feeling or even a taste. An example would be the smell of oak reminding you of a summer vacation to your parent's cabin. Smell sets up a psychological experience prior to the actual consumption of the wine.

FUN FACT: skillful wine judges need to evaluate 200-300 wines per week on a regular basis in order to maintain their skill.


As you sip that glass of wine you need to realize that there are generally only four tastes one can experience; bitter, salty, sour and sweet. Being that salty is not a wine taste that leaves bitter sour and sweet, which each gives away what that particular wine is made of. Sweetness is triggered by grape sugars and alcohol, sour (or tart) is triggered by the acidity of the grape, and bitter is triggered by tannins from red grape skins as well as oak aging.


What you SAVOR on the end of your palate is really the most important and personalized part of the process. What you savor as delectable and warming, someone else might describe as dry and bitter. Each and every wine drinker’s palate is different and hopefully, your senses guided you towards a proper tasting experience.

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