The importance of the five S’s of wine tasting

Exploring the world of wine is not just about indulging in its flavours; it’s about understanding its intricacies, nuances, and the artistry behind its creation. In Western Australia, where vineyards sprawl under the sun-drenched skies, mastering the art of wine tasting becomes an enriching journey through sight, smell, swirl, sip, and savour – the Five S’s that elevate wine appreciation to a refined experience.

Sight

The first impression of a wine begins with sight. As you gaze into the glass, observe the colour, clarity, and intensity. In Western Australia’s vibrant wine scene, the hues of a wine offer insights into its varietal, aging process, and body.  The younger the red wine the brighter it’s colour, as it ages it loses this and gains a bit more amber and brown hue. Whites, with their lighter tones, reflect their varietal characteristics with clarity, yet over time they become darker in colour. Classic varietals of an aging white wine are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling & Semillon. Not just colours, but opacity too plays a role, hinting at the wine’s texture and complexity. Whether it’s the ruby red of a Shiraz or the golden shimmer of a Chardonnay, every hue tells a story waiting to be discovered.

Smell

Delve into the aromatic world of wine, where every sniff unveils a tapestry of scents. Before identifying the notes, ensure the absence of faults or off-putting aromas. The classic is a red wine which has ‘oxygenated’ and smells more like a port. The oak can also play a massive role in smell, get this wrong and it can be an off-putting aroma indeed.
In Western Australia’s wine country, primary aromas of juicy, fresh fruits and delicate florals greet the senses, hinting at the grape’s origin and fermentation process. Secondary aromas, born from meticulous wine-making techniques, offer nuances of oak, yeast, and vanilla, enriching the olfactory journey. With tertiary aromas, evolved through maturation, the bouquet deepens, revealing earthy tones and subtle spices. Each inhalation paints a vivid picture of the wine’s evolution, inviting exploration and appreciation.

Swirl

A simple swirl unlocks a treasure trove of aromas, enriching the tasting experience. With each graceful rotation, the wine cascades against the glass, which allows oxygen to get into the wine and interreact with the molecular structure of the wine, you would have heard the term ” Letting the wine open up” or “This wine is a bit tight and needs some air”
It’s best to pour smaller servings which will allow more air to intereact with the surface area. Yes, you can swirl red & white wine, anything that has spent time on oak or has some bottle age to it. Combine this with decanting the wine and you unlock it’s full potential.

Sip

As the wine caresses the palate, embark on a sensory voyage through taste and texture. In Western Australia’s wine regions, every sip unveils a symphony of flavours, each one meticulously crafted to tantalise the senses. From the crisp acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc to the velvety smoothness of a Shiraz, the palate becomes a canvas painted with diverse hues of taste. Explore the wine’s body, acidity, sweetness, and tannins, assessing its harmony and balance. With each sip, discover the wine’s unique identity, relishing its lingering finish that leaves an indelible mark on the palate. Make sure to really swirl the wine around your mouth, this will ensure the flavours reach more taste buds. Also, have you noticed someone drinking wine and breathing air through their front teeth at the same time? Albeit it might look a bit weird, the point again is to get air into the wine to allow more flavours to shine.

Savour

To truly appreciate a wine, allow it to linger, savouring every moment and nuance. In Western Australia’s serene vineyards, time slows down as you reflect on the wine’s journey from vine to glass. Let the flavours linger on your palate, allowing them to unfold and evolve, revealing hidden depths and complexities. With each savoured moment, gain insights into the wine’s provenance and craftsmanship, appreciating the artistry behind its creation. As you conclude your tasting journey, take with you not just memories but a deeper understanding and appreciation of the wine’s essence.

You can see us taste some wines on our youtube channel HERE

Cellar door with wine barrels and the kosovich family, Perth, western australia

Lancaster winery in the swan valley, Perth, Western Australia, with people drinking wine doing The Five S's of wine tasting.

Learn More About Western Australian Wine Regions

Encompassing the The Swan Valley, Chittering & Surrounds the key varietals grown here include Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc & Verdelho.

What you might not know is it is Australia’s 2nd oldest wine region and has the hottest climate of any wine region in Australia. It is actually too hot here to produce certain varietals like Pinot. So, if you find one here, the fruit will probably be from down south.

Being on the doorstep of Perth we often forget it’s only a 25 minute drive from the city. We are so lucky to have a major wine region so close to the city.

An untapped resource that we are excited to showcase. We encourage you to take a drive up through the Bickley Valley. Not only are there some great wineries, but it’s a lovely drive with some fantastic views!

Most wineries here in the Bickley region are quiet young and a little different, with some varietals somewhat uncommon in WA. It has its own microclimate, producing differences in a Cabernet or Shiraz found down on the coastal plain. Up here you will find other varietals like Durif, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and some Pinot Noir & Merlot.
The region stretches from Jarrahdale, through Bickley and the undulating landscapes of the Darling scarp.

The first commercial vineyard began operation in 1974 by Peel estate, which is still there today and producers some wonderful wines! Shiraz is the area’s strong suite.

The sea breeze comes much sooner than the swan valley keeping the temperatures a little cooler. Unfortunately, a region with few wineries that have a cellar door at present.

The Ferguson Valley and surrounds sits about 15 mins East of Bunbury and is home to a number of small boutique wineries. It’s majestic rolling hills, and the changes between the prevailing summer easterlies to the afternoon sea breeze makes for a diverse set of microclimates.

The region also encompasses the coastal plain, and down to Donnybrook providing different styles. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon & Sauvignon Blanc are the kings of this area, but wineries are experimenting with new plantings.

World renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay live here, but there is still diversity in the climate that creates different styles from a winery 30km North of Margaret River, to 15km’s south of Margaret River.

There are 70 wineries with a 5 star rated (James Halliday) Cabernet. Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon are also strong in the area. Margs wipes other Australian regions off the table when they blend a Sauvignon Blanc and a Semillon.
If you have not been a fan of Chardonnay in the past, I suggest you give it another go. Styles change, and the regions Chards is rated amongst the best in the country.

Situated to the East & West of Bridgetown the area is exposed to cooler temperatures and a higher elevation compared with Margaret River.

The Blackwood Valley mainly produces quality aromatic Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. You can expect to find a vivid shiraz full of black fruits, and a textured, medium-bodied cabernet sauvignon. There are much fewer wineries in the Blackwood Valley compared with Margaret River.
The first vineyards in the region were established in 1976 and the area is now home to several award-winning wine producers and grape growers who supply some of Australia’s finest restaurants.

This is Karri Forrest country, and the rich soil is loved by Vineyards and Avocado’s galore! Its cool and wet in Pemberton for about 6 months, receiving far more rainfall than most other wine regions in WA.

The area can receive over 1.2 meters of rain per year. It is not uncommon in summer for Perth to be Sunny and 33c, while Pemberton is partly cloudy with cool ocean breezes from the South East and only 24c.
This lush soil combined with cool weather helps Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay thrive here, and keep an eye out for a lovely floral Cabernet Franc as well.

Much debate has been had over splitting up the Manjimup and Pemberton regions. Manjimup has a warmer climate and less fertile soil whereas Pemberton’s soil is richer.

The Warren River runs through the middle to split up the regions. The area is reasonably young in plantings, dating back to the late 80’s. The wines produced in this area are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and a few Cabernet Franc’s. For me, the Manjimup and Pemberton regions produce the states best Merlot. If you haven’t been a Merlot fan, it could be you are yet to try one from these regions.

The biggest single wine region in Australia – I bet you did not know that! There is such diversity in terrain, climate and soil type that just about anything thrives down here.

Denmark, Mount Barker and the Porongurup’s are the key areas, Some of WA’s finest Shiraz comes from north of Denmark in the Frankland River area, while most of Australia’s best Rieslings come from the Porongurup’s. Just ask James Halliday who says it himself!
Due to the sheer size of The Great Southern and its varied terrain, it has the capacity to produce world-class wines from a range of classic varieties. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay. There are 5 star wineries littered throughout the region. I need no convincing in taking a trip to Denmark for their wineries.

Indian Ocean Western Australia Great Southern Pemberton Margaret River Geographe Blackwood Valley Manjimup Peel Perth Hills Swan Districts