A bit about Wine.
Observe the color and clarity of the wine. View wine by holding the glass up to a white background in a well-lighted room. Use the rim of a tablecloth or even your white shirt’s sleeve. Notice if the wine is clear and brilliant or cloudy and dull. Notice the depth of color. Is it watery and pale or deep and dark? Looking straight down into the glass, can you see the bottom? Observe the rim. Is the color of wine same at the rim as in a middle?
White wines vary from clear, through light green and all shades of yellow, to deep golden brown. They naturally gain color as they age.
Red wines range from red, ruby to purple, garnet and brick. As they age, they lose color and begin to brown.
Wine color is affected the most by:
- the age of the wine
- the grape variety
- whether or not the wine spent time in oak
Also, observe the body of the wine by the way it coats the sides of the glass. If the “legs” trickle down slowly, it has more body. If it falls down in sheets, it has less body.
Swirling wine in the glass exposes it to a larger surface area. This increases wine’s contact with air and intensifies its aromas. Swirl your wine by holding the glass by the base or by the stem.
What is the very first thing you think of when you smell wine?
The smell of wine is referred to as its nose, bouquet or aroma. Common aromas include different fruits, spices, herbs and flowers. While different people will smell different things in the same wine, there are general smells specific to certain varieties.
Be sure to smell the wine several times. A wine with great complexity will offer different aromas each time, as well as several scents at one time. There are hundreds of smells in wine!
Aromas most often associated with white wines:
Chardonnay: pear, apple, peach, apricot, vanilla, lemon, melon, pineapple and other tropical fruit, honey
Sauvignon Blanc: grass, herbs, grapefruit, pear, gooseberry, lime, lemon, olive
Gewurztraminer and Riesling: grapefruit, apricot, lime, mint, melon, peach, lilac, jasmine, cinnamon, cloves
Viognier: flowers, lemon, honeysuckle and nectarine
Aromas most often associated with red wines:
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot: blackberry, raspberry, cherry, plum, black currant, chocolate, coffee, tea, tobacco, cedar, bell pepper, mint, smoke, nuts
Pinot Noir: raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, violet, rose
Zinfandel and Syrah: black currant, blackberry, pomegranate, plum, lavender, black peppercorn, wet wood, earthiness
Sangiovese: raspberry, cherry, plum, anise, olive
Unfortunately, sometimes you might encounter an “off smell”. These smells include:
Sherry: the wine has oxidized from age or improper storage.
Vinegar: the wine contains excessive acetic acid.
Cork/Mustiness: a defective or inferior cork has affected the wine.
Sulphur: the wine contains excessive sulphur dioxide.