Culinary Arts

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.

Very informative! Lots of good, practical information. Makes me want to raise a glass!

Knew most of this but nicely packaged and presented and good to llearn a few new things - eg linerarity, which I have often observed but didn’t know

Very informative. I thought it was a little difficult to get into at first, but then, after the lesson with the students, it was easier to watch the rest.

Am a recent wine appreciator; I learned much about wine here, and enjoyed getting to know James family ties to food and wine. Excellent series.


Steven P.

“I’ll never do things like this. That shows you know nothing about wine.” Not only is this the line of the class, it may be the best wine of all MasterClass.

Alexandra Y.

From Australia, internet speeds are fine, yet all Masterclass lessons are super slow to buffer - always stop-starting. So annoying and disruptive. can something be done about this please?

Tom V.

I found this to be very interesting particularly as you seen the consistencies and contrasts that everyone around the table has. JS has done a great job of walking through a number of different varieties and examples of his style of writing and thought process. This was like being a ‘fly on the wall’ for a professional tasting and has provided a foundation of confidence for me to continue my wine analysis journey...thanks!

C H.

I find this program quite useless. He uses lots of neat words about wines - but he seems more like a horoscope reader than actually teaching anything about wine. A great line from this one “remember there’s no wrong descriptor about wine.” His point is - how you remember wines is all personal to you. But the stuff that would be helpful - like “that flavor comes from the barrel aging” comes only through anecdotal. A line from later on sums it up great: “A great wine is always great” But he doesn’t explain what makes it great.

A fellow student

Surprised no one said, “Hell no!” when he asked if anyone else slurps. Strikes me as annoying *and* pretentious.


It feels like one-upmanship to create some sort of poetic description, which is highly dependent on the taster's background and personal experience. "It smells like my grandma's sewing room after a spring rain and I've just cut the grass back when I was 8 years old..." "Yes, exactly!"

A fellow student

not intimidating, but agree with simon gautherin & Joel Herzog. I didn't get much out of this chapter. Perhaps give us the wine list so we can taste along.

Pachy O.

I am really bad for smells. Whenever I taste a wine, I kinda able to fill bitterness or sweetness. But I just can't tell if I am smelling a fruit or chocolate or whatever. It smells like wine with alcohol. I feel so frustrated with that.

simon G.

Coming from the coffee industry, I'm here to take some of the methodology from sommeliers in analysing beverages. However I found a systematic lack of structure in the description with often very quick, broad comments and analysis. It could be valuable to start with the fundamentals of tasting (vocabulary, glossary of words, methodology of the analysis etc.) before jumping straight into what feels more like a 'show off' tasting that can be quite intimidating for non experienced tasters.


Great session and quite informative. It is also amazing to have a family relationship with the same passion!!!