Wednesday, September 16, 2015


WHEN TASTING A WINE it is important to eliminate all distractions, especially comments made by others; it is all too easy to be swayed. The wine should be tasted and an opinion registered before any ensuing discussions. Even at professionally led tastings, the expert’s job is not to dictate but to educate, to “Lead from behind,” putting into perspective other people’s natural responses to smells or tastes through clear and concise explanation. The three “basics” of wine-tasting are sight, smell, and taste, known as “eye,” “nose,” and “palate.”


The first step is to assess the wine’s limpidity, which should be perfectly clear. Many wines throw a deposit, but this is harmless if it settles to yield a bright and clear wine. If it is cloudy or hazy, the wine should be discarded. Tiny bubbles that appear on the bowl or cling persistently to the edge of the glass are perfectly acceptable in a few wines, such as Muscadet sur lie and Vinho Verde, but probably indicate a flaw in most other still wines, particularly if red and from classic Old World regions. The next step is to swirl the wine gently around the glass. So-called “legs” or “tears,” thin sinewy threads of wine that run
Down the side of the glass, may appear. Contrary to popular belief, they are not indicative of high glycerol content, but are simply the effect of alcohol on wine’s viscosity, or the way the wine flows. The greater the alcohol content, the less free-flowing, or more viscous, the wine actually becomes.

The color of wine
Natural light is best for observing a wine’s color, the first clue to its identity once its condition has been assessed. Look at the wine against a white background, holding the glass at the bottom of the stem and tilting it away from you slightly. Red wines vary in color from claret, which is almost rosé, to tones so dark and opaque that they seem black. White wines range from a colorless water-white to deep gold, although the majority is a light straw-yellow color. For some reason, there are very few rosé wines that are truly pink in color, the tonal range extending from blue-pink, through purple-pink, to orange-pink.
Disregard any impression about a wine’s color under artificial lighting because it will never be true—fluorescent light, for example, makes a red wine appear brown.

 Factors affecting color
The color and tonal variation of any wine, whether red, white, or rosé, is determined by the grape variety. It is also influenced by the ripeness of the actual grapes, the area of production, the method of vinification, and the age of the wine. Dry, light-bodied wines from cooler climates are the lightest in color, while fuller bodied or sweeter-styled wines from hotter regions are the deepest. Youthful red wines usually have a purple tone, whereas young white wines may hint of green, particularly if they are from a cooler climate. The aging process involves a slow oxidation that has a browning effect similar to the discoloration of a peeled apple that has been exposed to the air.


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