Hello! Today I’ve had a bit of fun taking some silly photos of me as I go through the steps of tasting a wine for a bind tasting…
Hold your horses though, before you take a sip or even start sniffing into the glass there’s a lot you can find out about the wine!
The wine I am analyzing in the images is a sweet wine by Ben Rye, from Panteleria, a small Island off the south coast of Italy. The grape variety is Zibbibo which is a synonym for the Muscat of Alexandria grape, a very aromatic and fruity variety.
Step 1: Look at the wine, preferably in front of a white background to get a clearer picture.
Things to check for:
Colour: Straw, yellow, gold for whites or purple, ruby and garnet for reds.
- Straw – indicates a young wine, cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks or underipeness
- Yellow – indicates a slightly older wine with more fruit ripeness, oak ageing or slight exposure to oxygen
- Gold – indicates very ripe grapes, long ageing in oak, exposure to oxygen, very mature wine or sweet wine
- Purple – indicates a young red wine or very commonly is the tell tale sign of a syrah grape variety
- Ruby – indicates ripe grapes, still fresh and youthful
- Garnet – usually a sign of age, the use of oak ageing and/or exposure to oxygen
Intensity – how intense is the colour? Does it leave a stain on the glass?
- Low intensity – when you look through the glass you can see the stem and base of the glass below
- Medium intensity – you can see where the stem starts at the bottom of the glass but cannot see past the stem
- High intensity – you can’t see anything through the glass, this is wine soup baby!
This is for red wines only…and can be effected by how thick or thin skinned the grape is (thick skins= higher intensity), how hot the climate was (hotter= higher intensity) and how long the grapes were macerated on their skins (long maceration = higher intensity).
When the wine leaves a stain around the glass (sometimes called extract), it usually indicates a very hot climate most often found in the new world wine regions, such as Howell Mountain, Napa Valley in California.
Measuring intensity in white wines is pretty much the same as measuring their colour, an intense white would be golden/amber in colour and a white with low intensity would be almost transparent, like water.
Viscosity – measure this by swirling the wine in the glass or tipping it to the side, back and fourth 3 times. Now you can see the legs/tears!
- Low – the tears will fall fast down the side of the glass, this would indicate low alcohol and/or sugar content
- Medium – the tears will fall slightly slower and have a medium alcohol and/or sugar content
- High – the tears will fall much slower, this would indicate higher alcohol and/or sugar content
Now, like a detective you can eliminate what kind of wine you definitely don’t have and then you’re already one step closer to guessing what the wine could be, just by looking at it!
Of course you will also notice things like bubbles, which will tell you if you have a sparkling or still wine, haziness, which will tell you if you have a natural/unfiltered wine and any sediment that can indicate an older or more natural wine.