From Dr. Gary Pavlis, Rutgers University, NJ Agricultural Experiment Station:
1. Sight - If you don't like the way it looks, chances are, you won't like the way it tastes.
2. Swirl - The glass is designed that way for a reason. Give it a twirl; couterclockwise if you're right handed, clockwise with your left. Let it breathe. See if it has legs. Get a sense of the texture.
3. Smell - If you hate it, don't drink it. Smell is also closely tied to taste. Before you smell the wine, sniff your hand to neutralize your senses. (Don't go sniffing wines like they're candles on display.)
4. Sip - Don't down it and think your stomach will make the decision. This isn't Pepto-Bismol, this is wine. Let it roll around in your mouth - the tannins will tingle the sides of your tongue, the fruit will rest in the middle, and the burn you sense in the back of your throat will tell you how much alcohol is in the mix.
5. Savor - What can you do with this wine? Remember: "Wine is the liquid part of the meal." You aren't drinking it to get wasted, you're drinking it to enjoy it. Whether it's a tannic dry red wine that combines well with the fat in a steak, or an off-dry, spicey/fruity white wine that blends well with Asian, wine is about enhancing your pallate. If you're going to drink, drink well -- not often. (The same can be said for eating in general.)