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.

LOVED the interaction with James and the people who's families have produced wines for many generations. Their passion and love for what they do and their products are a labor of love and James shows his appreciation and love in return by sharing that with us, and the world!

I really enjoyed this Master Class I learned a lot. It wasn't like textbook learning which I truly loved! Thank you so much.

Must find passport. Not finished yet, class & supporting notes, good. No wine in hand, bad. Super Tuscan's good. Hoping for affordable & drinkable🍷

wine is my best friend, i get to judge a wine good or bad, but they never judge me.


Olga P.

Having watched two lessons so far, I have to say, basic knowledge about wines really really helps, at least what I hear doesn’t sound unfamiliar. I feel the best way to watch these is to get these exact bottles and taste these wines during the episodes to try and recognize the notes he’s talking about

A fellow student

My issue with wine, is that I will find a wine I love but sometimes after buying it enough I can tell when it’s not at its best. Like that batch was just horrible. Do wine makers ever realize they sent out a bad batch of wine and recall them?

Joerg K.

The Streak … if you swirl the Wine in the Glass, says something about the Phenole in the wine and … therefore, something about Tannine and Structure at all. Nothing specific, but helpfull if you want to seperate Wines wich are upcsaled with neutral alcohol. A such upscaled Wines will never show any Streak in the glass, because the Surface of the Wine will be very thin ... then. Bur the most important thing is ... how the Tannines are bound to the Wine ... a question of barrelling and stratification.

Angela D.

learning the lingo...Colour...bubbles..and finish...white flowers...yeast or bread...acidity...champagne is contrasty wine...serious wine...texture is all about how it has been aged with the yeast in the bottle/aging in the cellar...perfumed...jasmine...petrol/kerosine...corks verses caps...straw, mineral...chalk, stones, slate...high temperature highlights good and bad, more of itself... cold takes away some of its faults...14 Fruili-apples mango, ...a rose is the colour aroma colour comes from the skins of the grapes...natural wine is made without sulfur and very little intervention...has to be so clean and well made...currants...describing wines is personal...raspberry/currants etc.smells earth, pallet long lasting but soft with some bitterness...A great wine is always great ...

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!"