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Discerning Flavors and Aromas: Student Tasting Experience

James Suckling

Lesson time 28:20 min

In order to appreciate wine, you must first be able to truly taste it. Understand the common characteristics of different varietals by discussing flavor, aroma, acidity, structure, texture, and balance.

James Suckling
Teaches Wine Appreciation
Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.
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I thought it'd be really cool to get together today and taste some wines. And I think this is going to help all of us to be better tasters, to better appreciate wine, to discuss how they're made, what they taste like, and why. That's really important. What I tried to do today was to select wines that we can all find at home, and a wide range of wines. You have the prosecco, which is much different than a top Champagne, a chardonnay from France, and a pino grigio from Italy. Wonderful Bordeaux, young and old, the same chateau, but then you have a rich and powerful California cabernet. All sorts of really cool things today. I hope you all realize you can do this at home. Andrew, can you serve the wines now? Thanks. In general, I like serving sparkling wines before a dinner party or also a tasting, because it's fresh, bubbly, and it's really the right thing to do. So, of course, you always look at the color first when you're tasting a wine. And I always look like this. Try to find some white space. You can use the paper, but luckily I have my tables in my office, and they're white like this. I'll never do things like this. That shows you know nothing about wine. So just take a look. Now this is a nice prosecco. The color is right. If it was a little bit darker yellow, or had some orange to it, it would mean that probably it's not a great bottle. There could be some oxidation or it's old, because when a white wine ages it gets darker in color. As far as swirling, it looks like you're all very competent swirlers. And it's not just for looks. I think it's really fun to do but, actually, it oxidizes the wines. So, okay. We looked at the color. We swirled it, smell. And then just take a sip. When you're tasting, look for the texture. A lot of people forget that. The bubbles, are they fine? These are very fine. You almost don't get any. It's more like just tasting a still wine. And then start thinking about things like acidity and the fruit. And the most important thing for all wines is the finish. This lasts pretty long. I'm getting lots of lemon and apricot, but, more importantly, sliced pears. What are you getting, Vickia? - Definitely the pears. Very soft things, very light. I can taste a little bit of that sweetness, maybe, that the fruit remembers. - Danny, what are you getting? DANNY: I'm getting some floral notes, white flower, and it's still opening up as well. It's very, very nice. - Well, we'll talk more, and I think we can sort of hone in on stuff. And it's going to be a lot of fun. Andrew, could you serve the Champagne? Here we have Louis Roederer Champagne, which is one of the top Champagne houses. So let's go through that, and think about how this is different than the prosecco from Nino Franco, and this is one of the best proseccos. Of course, it's different because they're made from different grapes. The Champagne's made with pinot noir, chardonnay, and pino meunier. The ...

Discover the story in every bottle

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his wine tasting MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I just want more lessons form James. He is such a great instructor.

Thanks! I now have a better understanding why I enjoy a satisfying glass of wine; and, the different varieties.

Thank you for making the subject of wine and tasting less intimidating. I will definitely be trying wines from different regions.

This course was excellent. I like the way that James explains wine and the different facets of the wine world. I can appreciate wine and I feel inspired to learn more.


Darko O.

Stilted presentation with needless pleasantries and thus lacking in useful information. Also, not all of the wines were identified. If they were so good why not list the names? Very disappointing.

Robbie G.

This was a very valuable lesson for me. Suckling did a great job of selecting a nice range of wine with a great group of students with great input and comments. This was very approachable and easy to follow and comprehend

Nikhil N.

Serious question that might sound sarcastic: How do you know how to taste 'slate' or 'chalk' in a wine? Is it just a thought of what those should taste like or do you need to understand how that inedible thing actually tastes?


Very interesting lesson, some great tips about different types of wines. The vocabulary is simple, and it is really nice to see this group exchanging their different experiences.

marie G.

I really like that lesson. I have a question...Aging wine; my father is born December 8, 1947. I bought him a bottle of wine of the year of his birth. Is it drinkable?

Don W.

What is the reasoning behind not raising your glass to the light to see the color?

A fellow student

Have worked in the wine industry for quite some time and am enjoying this; however, i do find this presupposes that people have some basic working knowledge and familiarity of the jargon. If you're new to wine, is that a fair statement? I think adding a Wine 101 type class could be beneficial here.

A fellow student

Lesson: Student Tasting Experience. They introduce tasting points at the beginning of lesson (Body, Fruity, Acidity, Bubbles, Tannins, Finish), and then don't adhere to it in the descriptions, or get off topic and skip it all together. Very hard to follow logically when they don't take time to grade or describe in the same way. What is the point of going through the wines without any format? Just teach grapes individually in a separate lesson.

B R.

"Never do things like this..." (holds wine glass up in the air) "That shows you know nothing about wine." Pure gold.

Gladys P.

The discussion during the tasting experience is animated and descriptive. I usually had a difficult time describing the wines that I've had, but this session has opened me to a new vocabulary and renewed confidence to recommend wines that I like, especially from my favorite proseccos, rieslings, roses, and cab savs. Definitely need to practice with more wine varieties!