Tasting a wine requires some knowledge of oenology and a certain mastery. It takes training to refine your expertise, and curiosity to discover the particularities of each wine. To help you put words to a smell or a feeling, discover the 3 stages of tasting a wine .
Visual examination of wine
Wine tastings always start with visual analysis. The eye then allows us to determine 4 essential criteria of a wine.
The clarity of the wine
To observe the clarity of a wine , simply tilt the wine glass. We then evaluate the presence of a deposit at the bottom of the glass, or solid particles in suspension, to check if the wine is transparent, crystalline, clear.
When the color of the wine presents a defect, we say that it is opaque, muddy, hazy, cloudy, fishy, milky, or even opalescent.
Be careful, the presence of a deposit does not always mean that the wine is bad, because it can also reflect the evolution of the wine . So this is not a defect.
The shine of wine
The brilliance of a wine is assessed according to its ability to reflect light. To do this, you must observe the wine in natural light and on a white background. The taster then looks at the wine above the glass, to freely observe the disc of the wine, and determine if it is shiny, dazzling, luminous, clean... Or if it is rather dull and dull.
The color of the wine's color
The color of the wine allows us to obtain initial indications of its taste qualities. Thus, a white wine, a red wine or a rosé wine can be colorless, dark, pale, strong, intense or even deep.
- A red wine can be ruby, peony, cherry, purple, garnet, etc.;
- A white wine can be straw yellow, amber, gold, etc.:
- A rosé wine can be salmon, raspberry, rose, partridge’s eye…
The fat of a wine
The fatness of wines is determined according to the viscosity of the tears or drips present on the wall of the glass. The higher the alcohol content of the wine, the more numerous and viscous the tears.
We can then describe a wine as runny, fluid, glycerinated, thick, viscous or fatty.
Olfactory analysis of wine
After having observed the wine from all angles, let's then move on to the olfactory examination . The nose of a wine allows us to identify its character and its aromatic DNA. This analysis is then done in two stages:
- The first nose , which we observe without moving the glass and without aerating the wine;
- The second nose , or second nose, which is distinguished by swirling the wine in the glass to increase the aromas tenfold and allow the more complex and subtle aromas to be released.
The different aromas of a wine develop during the 3 stages of its life:
- The grape variety reveals the primary aromas (pepper with Cabernet Sauvignon, pepper with Syrah, rose with Muscat, etc.);
- Fermentation reveals the secondary aromas . We then distinguish between fermentation aromas (bread crumbs, biscuits, brioche, etc.), milky aromas (milk, yogurt, butter, etc.) and amylic aromas (banana, English candy, nail polish, etc.);
- Aging reveals tertiary aromas . We thus distinguish between woody aromas (cedar, oak, etc.), spicy aromas (vanilla, pepper, licorice, etc.) and empyreumatic aromas (coffee, tobacco, toasted bread, etc.).
The taste test of the wine
Let's finally move on to the third step, the taste analysis of the wine . This is a true art, and requires total listening to the sensations provided by the wine in the mouth. Tasting the wine then allows us to determine its structure: flavors (acid, bitter, sweet, salty, umami), taste balance, intensity, etc. This evaluation is done through 3 steps:
- The attack in the mouth : this part concerns the first sensations perceived in the mouth, such as sweetness or softness that one can feel on the tip of the tongue;
- The mid-palate : after just a few seconds, the rest of the taste buds come into play, and allow you to perceive the balance of the wine. The material, or the body of the wine, can then be structured, light, enveloped or even structured. At this stage, the taste buds located on the side of the tongue perceive certain flavors, such as acidity;
- The finish : at the end of the mouth, the feelings vary depending on the type of wine. Red wines reveal their tannin here, and white wines and rosé wines reveal their liveliness. At this stage, the tasters evaluate the length in the mouth of the wine, that is to say the aromatic persistence. The longer a wine stays in the mouth (duration measured in caudalie), the better it is!
Wine tasting is a much more complex exercise than it seems and requires practice. To learn how to taste a wine in 3 steps , go to the cellars of the Berne estate, to enjoy a unique wine tourism experience around the wines of Provence.