How I see a wine tasting, what you should be looking for to help you to become a good taster.
The basic of successful tasting:
It is the right description of: colour, aromas, flavours, texture found in the wine, which is link to sight, smell and taste.
First is to define the wine’s colour: its hue, intensity and clarity.
Hue: (called colour appearance parameters).
the colour of the wine is evaluated according to two parameters, its hue and its intensity. words used are mostly from stones like: ruby, topaz, metals: gold and copper, fruits lemon cherry, flowers rose and violets.
Red wine: light ruby, dark ruby, vermillion, garnet, deep garnet, deep purple, when aged: brick red, russet, chestnut, mahogany and coffee.
Rosé wine: pale grey, very light rose, pink, raspberry, carnation, strawberry, cherry, salmon pink, when older: salmon, orange, brick, copper and onion skin.
White wine: pale yellow with a hint of green, pale yellow, lemon, pale gold, golden yellow,, straw gold. When older: old gold, bronze, copper, amber, mahogany and coffee.
Since there are so many different shades of colour, it is important to define the hue by its intensity. This varies from pale to very dark moving through light, dark, deep, intense, and profound. Before pale, you may use soft, weak, poor or watery colour.
This should be perfect and not compromised by any foreign particles in suspension, such as dust, dead yeast, flakes, or any residue. The description will be than cloudy, hazy or opalescent. These terms are associated to poor winemaking.
All this information will help you to recognise varieties and vintages.
Ex: when young
Gamay: ruby colour
Pinot Noir: deep ruby
Cabernet Sauvignon: deep garnet
1994 Bordeaux blend from the Medoc, Bordeaux has lee intense hue than 1996 which is more concentrated.
Vine yield: the colour intensity is also a function of the yield that the winemaker has obtained from the vines. The higher the yield the less concentrated the grapes and the lighter the resulting liquid. By contrast, the lower the yield, the more the wine will gain in intensity.
Condition of the grapes: If made with a spoiled lot of grapes, the wine will have less colour intensity, whatever the variety or yield.
Vintage: the colour of the white wine intensifies with age, while that of the red wine fades. As a result, inspecting a wine can allow you to assess its age. When very young, reds have a slight blue tinge that often lends a purple hue to their overall appearance. In time, they will acquire shades of deep orange as the pigments and tannins start to yellow. As whites contain few tannins, their colour develops much more slowly, from shades of green to yellow to gold.
Vinification: judging from view directly above the glass, the wine should be brilliant, lustrous, luminous or intense. The clarity of the wine will indicate the style of the vinification. Is finning and filtration used?? Filtration will bring the brilliance of the wine.
Rim: when inspecting the surface of red wines, tasters will pay special attention to its outside edge, known as “meniscus”. Because the wine is at its thinnest there, the wine’s true colour will be most apparent. if Blue/purple, it suggests that the wine is still very young. As soon orange come to the description the maturation of the wine is evident. Brown and garnet are acceptable only a very old wine. If the colour does not fit the age on the label, therefore the wine is tired, old from poor cork or cellaring.
The legs/tears: it is the viscosity of the wine. Viscous legs that flow down the glass are a sign of wine in residual sugars and or alcohol. By contrast, a less rich wine will have fewer, finer, and more fluid legs.it provides more information about its personality and indicate sweet or very alcohol wines.it is not a reference of quality.
Wine aroma: Nose
the wine aroma delivers 70/100 of all information about the wine. If the wine is served too cold, the will not be able to vaporise easily. If served too warm the aromas wil evaporate too quickly and be overpowered by alcohol fumes. The aroma of a wine splits into three stages.
For the initial olfactory contact with a wine, tasters will angle their glasses and lightly breathe in the wine aromas. They make sure, that the wine is not tainted and they capture the delicate, volatile scents of the wine (those present in the upper part of the glass).
Tasters will grasp the glass by its base and rotate it to swirl the wine and oxygenate it. The process will speed the process to accelerate the vaporization of the aromatic compounds. If the aromas increase it means that the wine can age.
this shows the wine’s character after a long period of oxygenation in the glass. Once the wine is in contact with the air, its various aromatic compounds develop at different rates according to their volatility. If lack of it the wine shows that It has pass its best.
Describing the bouquet of a wine:
Aromatic characteristics: the description starts as: intense, powerful, generous, up to exuberant. In contrast, inexpressive, weak, poor and limp. And between: pleasant, agreeable, elegant up to classy.
Identifying different aromas:
Here we will refer to family of scents: floral, fruity, vegetal, mineral, spicy, balsamic, toasted and chemical aromas.
Primary aromas: these show the fruit characteristics of the grape variety. From cultivar to cultivar a selection of family of scents will be on offer.
Secondary aromas: there are the result of fermentation, the process that transforms grapes into wine. It can also be called fermentation aromas. They are determinate by the nature of the yeasts and style of winemaking. This part is related to the chemical family of aromas like bananas, nail varnish, yeasty fresh bread, butter, cream. These aromas are associated to young wines and will disappear after a couple of years in the bottle. Secondary aromas are also introduced by maturing the wine in barrels, spicy scents (pepper, vanilla, cinnamon) or toasted ( grilled, roasted or smoked).
Tertiary aromas: these appear when wines develop or age in the bottle. Tertiary aromas are the result of a long period of ageing and contribute to the complexity of a wine, adding musky and vegetal notes to the aromatic framework.
three stages of tasting: while the practical aspect of tasting is conducted in one action, the associated analysis is carried out in three successive stages.
Attack phase: it is the first impression that the wine will give when reaching your mouth. Any Co2, cold and warm temperature, the first impression should be very clear and should receive the words such as generous, aromatic, fruity, weak, watery, alcoholic.
Mid- Palate: this stage corresponds to the development of the wine in the mouth. Tasters roll a sip of wine in the mouth for few seconds, giving the impression of chewing and then breathe in a column of air through the mouth in order to accelerate the flow of aromatic particles to the olfactory bulb. An organ at the back of the nasal cavity designed to capture these.
Finish: this last stage deals with the length of flavour of the wine “in the mouth” once it has been swallowed. This gives an idea of the “size” of the wine. The longer the impression, the higher the quality and the greater the wine’s potential for laying down.it can be measure in seconds (French call caudally from Latin Cauda “tail”). Warmth or burning on the palate refer to high alcohol. Astringent refers to tannins from wine or barrel.
A votre Sante.