Pinot Noir

The variety’s low to moderate tannin content and crisp acidity allows aroma and mouth feel to dominate the sensory experience. In fact, most Pinot Noirs are described in terms of fabric: silk, satin, taffeta, brushed cotton.

A sweet and fruity Pinot Noir is typically fruit driven with notes of raspberries, cherries, and strawberries. It carries delicate and light floral flavors with a feel of silk and also contains supple tannins. A more savory and complex Pinot Noir will have more organic flavors as opposed to fruit flavors; mushrooms, forest, earth, and smoke are some of the flavors you will typically taste. It is full-bodied, weighty and has hints of incense, sandalwood, and spice in the bouquet. It feels like satin or brushed cotton as you taste it and contains a moderate amount of tannins.

The most common (but not exclusive) smell and/or flavor elements found in Pinot Noir-based wines include:

Typical Pinot Noir Smell and/or Flavor Descriptors
Varietal Aromas/FlavorsProcessing Bouquets/ Flavors
Fruit: cherry, strawberry, raspberry, ripe tomatoTerroir: mushroom, earth, barnyard, truffle, leather, meat
Floral: violet, rose petalOak (light): vanilla, coconut, sweet wood
Spice: sassafras, rosemary, cinnamon, caraway, peppermintOak (heavy): oak, smoke, toast, tar
Herbal: rhubarb, beet, oregano, green tomato, green tea, black oliveBottle Age: cedar, cigar box

Tasting Pinot Noir—or any other kind of wine—involves more than just your sense of taste; it also involves sight, smell, and a certain kind of touch.

1. Look at the Color

Hold your glass up to the light. Color can vary substantially, even within the same varietal.
Reds range in color from pale red to dark brown. White wines appear golden, sometimes with elegant green tints.

2. Follow Your Nose

Swirl the wine in your glass; it will release a range of delightful aromas. Then take a quick whiff for an initial impression. Finally, smell more deeply and slowly. You might notice flowers or fruit, an earthy scent or an oaky aroma.
What aromas do you smell?

3. Consider the Taste

Take a sip of wine, and then let it rest in your mouth for a moment before swallowing. Now consider the taste. Do you taste fruits or spices? Does the taste go away quickly or linger? Is it tart or sweet?
Practice helps distinguish the different qualities of individual wines.

4. Feel for the Body

Take another sip of wine. Before swallowing, take in a little air. This will activate your senses further. Notice how the wine feels in your mouth. How does the touch affect your tongue and throat as you swallow? Was the feel of the wine lean or rich, velvety or smooth, silky or sticky?