How to prime a wine glass

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The ritual of priming a wine glass, that is swirling a small amount of wine in a glass and discarding it before you fill it can help you to taste better.

Some wine tasters ‘prime’ their wine glasses before tasting wine: they pour a little wine into the glass and swish it around right to the rim to remove any taint, then pour that wine out and replace it with wine to drink.

By priming the glass with a little of the wine, the tasters can make sure they don’t taste chlorine from the water and odours from the environment where the glasses have been stored.

Priming is often carried out in more sophisticated restaurants too, to show that they take wine seriously – they say it adds to the ritual of fine wine tasting, others argue that priming has no effect and that it is a waste of wine.

If you want to check it for yourself, take two wine glasses that have been cleaned with just water and dried with a lint-free cloth. Pour a little wine into one, swirl it around to cover the glass to the rim and discard the wine. Pour about an inch of wine into the glass and leave to breath. Take the second glass and just pour an inch of wine into the glass (don’t swirl). Leave to breath. Taste both and see if you can see the difference.

Handy tip
When you wash wine glasses, you should only use water – it can take up to ten water washes to remove washing up liquid.

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