“The art of wine tasting” is often spoken about, but how does one go about it?
Tasting wine should generally be done in three stages: assessing the appearance, aroma, then taste.
The colour of a wine will give you precious information: it will give you an approximate idea of the age of the wine. Young wine tends to look more purplish red, and as it ages, its robe should turn to cherry red. Some grape varieties are misleading however, for example cabernet sauvignon which is a deep shade of purple when young, turns to an orangey shade of red when aged.
Rosé wines change colour when aged, depending on the grape variety, age and macerating time before pressing. Bergerac rosés tend to be rather dark in colour.
The robe of white wines is harder to analyse, because it depends very much on the grape variety used and its oxidisation. The better it is protected during its making, the paler the wine. Young white wines have green nuances; they become golden as they age, then end up amber when they are fully aged.
Getting the bouquet of a wine comes in two stages: the 1st Nose and the 2nd Nose.
The 1st nose is your first impression – getting to see if you like it, without going into details. If aromas appear from the 1st nose, it means that the wine is ‘open’, on the contrary, it may be ‘closed’.
The 2nd nose is your chance to discover the aromas. At this point, do not hesitate to swirl the wine in your glass, in order to put it in contact with air, and free the aromas it contains. After having aerated your wine, push your sensorial analysis further by comparing smells to categories of aromas such as – fruity, floral, herbaceous, spicy, woody, etc.
The gustatory analysis is the actual objective of wine tasting, this is the moment when you realise whether this wine corresponds to what you imagined it would taste like, following the visual and olfactory evaluations. In your mouth, you should distinguish flavours, then the actual taste (bitterness, acidity, sweetness and saltiness) and mouth-feel (alcohol content, astringency, temperature, volume and richness). As a general rule, you will first taste the acidity, followed by the fruit aromas, then whether it is fat (very rich) or not, the alcohol content, and lastly the bitterness and tannins.