To fully appreciate the qualities of a wine, the wine tasting process is rigorous, and goes through several stages. For a blind tasting during an oenology course, or simply to enjoy the characteristics of a vintage, discover the stages of wine tasting for a careful sensory analysis.
Step 1: settle in in the best conditions
Tasting a wine requires optimal availability and good conditions, in order to be able to give free rein to all the senses, without other stimuli than those provided by the wine. It is therefore essential to be able to settle in a situation conducive to attention and concentration, far from any distraction for the olfactory and taste senses.
For a good tasting, the conditions also include the choice of equipment. It is therefore advisable to choose a wine glass designed for this purpose, such as the INAO glass. Finally, the room must be bright and the tasting table must be white, to be able to properly appreciate the color of the wine against a white background.
Step 2: visual examination of the wine
Wine tastings always begin with the visual examination of the wine . Indeed, this step makes it possible to obtain valuable information on the constitution of the wine. The visual examination is then carried out by holding the glass straight, at eye level, then tilting it slightly. We then observe the disc which forms on the wall of the wine glass, as well as the color and its nuances:
- The transparency of the wine , or limpidity, which can be deep, dark, sustained, light or pale;
- The brilliance of wine , or its radiance, which determines its ability to reflect light;
- The color of the wine , which gives an indication of the state of conservation, the grape variety, the winemaking technique and the age of the wine. For example, young wines have shades of crimson and violet, while an older red wine has more of a brown and amber color;
- The intensity of the color is reflected in the impression of thickness that the wine can have when the glass is tilted.
Step 3: the olfactory characteristics of the wine
After having observed the wine, you must now smell it, to discover its nose, that is to say the aromas it gives off, and the characteristics they give off. The nose of the wine is then examined in 3 stages.
- The first nose : here you must smell the wine at rest, without moving the glass. We then examine the first expression of the grape variety, isolating the different aromas;
- The second nose : this step requires holding the glass by the stem, then swirling the wine slowly before smelling it. The goal is to increase the contact of the wine with the air, to begin the oxidation which will reveal the aromas of the terroir. They are more intense than at first nose, and represent what we call the bouquet of the wine;
- The third nose : for this step, you must wait several hours after opening the bottle of wine. The olfactory examination then allows you to discover the aromas developed during the aging of the wine.
The nose of a wine can then offer 9 families of aromas : floral (violet, rose, etc.), fruity (strawberry, peach, etc.), vegetal (undergrowth, grass, scrubland, etc.), mineral (limestone, flint, etc.). , woody (pine bark, cedar, etc.), empyreumatic (grilled, smoked, roasted, burned, tobacco, etc.), balsamic (pine or cedar resin, etc.), animal (leather, musk, game, etc.), chemical (sulphur, iodine…).
Step 4: taste examination of the wine
Finally comes the final stage of the tasting, which consists of tasting the wine in the mouth. You must then take a small sip in the mouth, and circulate the wine without swallowing it, in order to coat all the taste buds of the tongue and palate. Indeed, each area of the mouth is more sensitive to a particular flavor:
- Bitterness at the bottom of the tongue ;
- Acidity on the sides of the tongue, at the bottom;
- The salty on the sides of the tongue, in front;
- Sweet on the tip of the tongue ;
- Umami on all areas .
This examination makes it possible to analyze the balance of the wine, its flavors, and its length in the mouth. The evaluation is again done in several stages:
- The attack : it brings together all the flavors that we feel in the first seconds, and in particular the acidity (feeling of freshness), the creaminess (roundness in the mouth and fat) and the bitterness;
- The mid-palate : here we can distinguish the flavors released during the few seconds following the attack;
- The finish : these flavors, which remain in the mouth after tasting, reveal the astringency of the wine.
A wine is then determined by its balance between alcohol, acidity and tannins, but also by its persistence in the mouth , in other words, the time which will pass after having swallowed or spit out the wine before the aromas are released. disappear completely. We count the persistence of the wine in caudalies (1 caudalie = 1 second), and very great wines persist for at least 10 caudalies.
To fully savor all the characteristics of a wine, nothing beats a proper wine tasting . Now you know how to do it, but it definitely takes practice. Do not hesitate to be accompanied by professionals during a cellar visit with tasting .