Wolverine Wine Club Guide to Wine Tasting
The taster wants to look at the color, the depth and the clarity or hue.
For the red wines the color can range from red purple, ruby, red, red-brown, …amber-brown.
For the white wines the spectrum ranges from pale yellow green, straw yellow, yellow gold, to brown.
In addition to color, you may notice other visual clues about the wine. For instance, "legs" or "tears" run down the inside of the glass after a swirl. The viscosity of these droplets gives an indication of a wines alcohol content.
After pouring the wine into your glass, bring it to your nose for your first smell. When you expose wine to air, some of the alcohol compounds, esters, begin to vaporize.
The first nose allows you exposure to the more delicate esters and gives you a very important first impression of the wine.
After the first impression, swirl the wine around in your glass. This increases the exposure of the wine to oxygen and serves to disperse the more delicate esters in favor of the heavier, more complex aspects of the wine (esters are some of the components that make up a wine's aromas). When these components combine with oxygen they yield the bouquet of the wine.. You will immediately notice a much different, more full smell. It is interesting to consider the differences between the first nose and the second.
The taster judges wine in 3 or 4 characteristics depending on the color of the wine.
For the white wines, there are three dimensions:
Acidity, alcohol, softness.
Think of these as forming a triangle with each attribute at a point. Each wine tasted forms its own triangle within the main framework depending on the differing proportions.
For red wines, a fourth dimension is added:
Acidity, alcohol, softness, astringency (this comes from the skins of the wine)
Think of these attributes as forming a square with each attribute at one of the points. Again, each wine can be pictorially reflected as occupying a different combination of points within the framework.
A balanced wine is one that has equal levels of the 3 or 4 dimensions. If each of the attributes were plotting in the framework, the larger the square or triangle the “bigger” the wine. The larger the impact of the wine when first tasted, the longer the taste of the wine will stay in your mouth after you have swallowed it.
The mouth is also broken into 4 main areas that deals with the tongue:
- Sugar at the tip on the tongue,
- Sour or Tannin at the back of the tongue (tannin frequently is much more prominent in red wines or wood-aged white wines).
- Acid at the sides of the tongue and on the insides of the cheeks - acidity is more apparent in white wines than red wines - and
- Salt at the extreme sides.
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4 - The Aftertaste
The finish, or aftertaste, is the overall taste that lingers after you have swallowed or spit the wine. How long does the taste linger? Usually a sign of a high quality wine is a long, pleasing aftertaste lasting from 15 to 20 seconds after you've swallowed the wine.