Best Wine Tasting Order of Common Wine Types

Wine tasting order is a vital aspect of the wine tasting experience. If you haven’t noticed yet, wine tasting can seem very complex but I promise, once you’ve done it a couple of times, it will come as second nature. I enjoy educating you guys so that when you go to a wine tasting event, you can get the most of your time, money, and most of all, enjoy the wine!


Experts around the world have analyzed wine and what makes for the most effective wine tasting order. Even if you’re a novice, following this order will help you better taste all that the wine has to offer.


Let’s go over this recommended order of wine tasting and I’ll also give you some insight on the order of specific varietals.


wine tasting order

Start with Sparkling


If you are tasting any sparkling wines, definitely start with those first- regardless of varietal. A sparkling wine is very light, and while it does have some sweetness, it won’t leave a lingering taste in your mouth. Sparkling wine will lead the way for stronger wines with little effect on your palate.


Your Wine Tasting Order Should Move from Whites to Reds


Regardless of the varietal, red wines will always leave a thicker taste in your mouth. This means you should always start with light, crisp white wines and then move on to red wines. Since white wine doesn’t have the same level of tannins as red, it will leave your palate primed for sampling darker options. Alternatively, reds are a perfect way to close out the evening with their hearty taste.


Note: If you plan on tasting any rose or orange wine options, these should be served in between the whites and the reds.


Dry to Sweet and Young before Old


Within whites and reds, work your way from dry to sweet. If you’ve enjoyed a sweet wine before, you probably know that it can leave you feeling relatively satisfied instead of craving another drink. This is exactly why dessert wines and fortified wines are better left until the very end of a meal or wine tasting event.

The acidity in a sweet wine can interfere with the flavor of a dry varietal, whereas a dry wine won’t interfere with the flavor of a sweet wine.


Finally, leave rich, old wines until the end (but still before dessert wines!). As wines get older, they naturally become more flavorful and complex. Therefore, an older wine is best enjoyed after younger vinos. This will allow you to really savor the layers of flavor without immediately having to move on to the next option.


wine tasting order

Wine Order of Common Wine Types


There are some varietals of white and red wines that you are likely to see at a wine tasting event. Knowing which you can expect and some of their defining characteristics can really help prepare you for the wine tasting.


For white wines, you might sample a Reisling, then a Pinot Grigio, followed by a Sauvignon Blanc, and finally a Chardonnay. Reisling is a very crisp and dry white, while Chardonnay has a reputation for being very sweet. Pinot Grigio is fruity and has some acidity, but isn’t particularly sweet. Sauvignon Blanc can be quite sweet, but it is much lighter than a Chardonnay.


Within the red wines, common varietals you can expect to encounter include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet. Pinot Noir is the lightest of the red wines and while the flavors are rich, they are also relatively dry. Merlot is very soft and smooth and is often considered one of the most accessible wines. Shiraz is darker and more full-bodied than any of the aforementioned wines. Finally, Cabernet is very dark and I think, almost savory! It’s rich and layered flavors should be saved as the last of the reds in this scenario.


I hope this simple guide helps you in determining which wines to scope out first during a wine tasting. Wine tasting order can make a big difference when it comes to the overall flavors of each grape. By tasting each wine in their proper order you’ll be able to better enjoy the rich, layered flavors of every option at your wine tasting event.

Speaking of wine tasting events, join us at one of our weekly Wine Wednesdays at Tutto Fresco Restaurant! Check out all of our events here.

Order of Common Varietals Reference List

  • Riesling [Dry]
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Vinho Verde
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Viognier
  • Chardonnay
  • Rosé / Clariet
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Tempranillo
  • Grenache
  • Zinfandel
  • Barbera
  • Merlot
  • Shiraz / Syrah
  • Malbec
  • Pinotage
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Petit Verdot
  • Sweet [White before Red]
  • Dessert Wines [non-fortified]
  • Fortified Wines


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