Wine tasting: a user guide to put your wine-expert friend in their place
Virtually all of us know someone (a friend, uncle, neighbour, etc.) who is a wine expert. So when they bring you a really good bottle, you need to know a minimum so you don't slip up or make an error of judgement.
Here is a little user guide to explain wine tasting basics. So, are you ready to impress your guests?
1) Observe and make comments
Perhaps you have already seen your friends raise their glass before drinking. This not to check whether the glass is clean or to toast, but to examine the colour of the wine. Here are a few terms that you can use to describe the colour of the wine: purple, garnet, ruby (red wine), golden, lemony or amber (white wine), salmon, raspberry or orange (rosé wine). Little tip: to admire the colour in all its glory, place your glass in the light and in front of a white background, such as a wall or a sheet of paper. You can also talk about its intensity: brilliant, clear, dark, etc. It's all very well knowing the terminology but you need to know what it means and what it is precisely referring to. You need to know that analysing the colour will give you a great deal of information about the wine that you are tasting. For example, a Burgundy red wine usually has a clear colour, as opposed to a Bordeaux which usually has a dark colour. In some cases, the colour may also indicate the age and alcohol content of a wine. A white wine with a brown colour, for example, may indicate that it has started its development.
2) Test your sense of smell...
The obsession that fine connoisseurs have of poking their noses into their glass can sometimes take you by surprise or seem unnecessary. However, this stage which is called "the nose" is extremely important for assessing the quality of a wine. It also helps you detect whether the wine has a flaw. This can, in fact, often be detected by the nose, although the wine should still be tasted to be sure.
If you smell a damp smell of cork or rot, in short a suspicious odour, it is safe to say that your wine has an anomaly (click here to find out more about methods for detecting a corked wine). Consequently, the nose can inform you of the potential development of a wine. And this is where things get interesting. Read the full article
"That's it, can I taste"? Yes, after having observed and inhaled the wine, you can finally enjoy it. But be careful, because the taste analysis of a wine is not an easy task. Remember two essential things that will determine: its balance and length in the mouth. Take a sip and pass it over the entire surface of your tongue. Concentrate and try to analyze what your tongue feels: a rather bitter, sweet, bitter, sour taste? These questions are used to evaluate what is known as the balance or harmony of a wine: a criterion of quality sought by most winegrowers, except of course in case they wish to bring out a flavor more than another. Once this first impression is analyzed, keep the wine in your mouth and suck in some air. This slightly noisy technique corresponds to retro-olfaction and serves to identify the aromas of a wine.
It's time to take a look at the length in the mouth. Perhaps you have already noticed while tasting a wine that the aromas remain more or less long in the mouth. In oenology, this phenomenon also known as "aromatic persistence" is measured in caudalies (1 caudalie = 1 second). Taste the wine again and count in your head until the sensations on your taste buds disappear. Once the exercise is over, you will be able to judge to evaluate its aromatic persistence. To give you a more accurate idea of the value of a length in the mouth, it is estimated that a wine is "good" when its aromatic persistence is equivalent to or greater than 6 caudalies. Beyond 10, it is considered exceptional.