The two things to look at are the clarity of the wine as well as its color and intensity.
Clarity is not a very important indicator because it only indicates the level of filtration that the wine has undergone and therefore reflects the policy of the winegrower or the level of sediment due to the age of the bottle. For example, natural wines are little or not filtered.
On the other hand, the color and its intensity give essential information about the wine.
The intensity of the color gives an indication of the grape variety used: a dark red probably indicates a Cabernet-Sauvignon, Syrah, Tannat or Malbec. Deep white potentially indicates a Gewürtzstraminer or a Pinot Gris.
The color gives an indication of the youth or the maturity of the wine. A red wine that tends towards purple or a white wine that has greenish undertones are young wines that are probably not in their prime.
In contrast, a red that tends to brown or a white that tends towards orange are indications of a pronounced oxidation and therefore of a wine that is old, even too old, beyond its period of maturity.
The other shades of red or white are indications of the type of winemaking and grape variety used for making the wine.
2. The smell
- Is the wine clean?
Is the intensity of the aromas light, medium or strong?
The more it is pronounced, the more it announces a high concentration and therefore a priori a pronounced taste (remember: we taste the aromas felt!)
- What are the aromas of wine?
This is the most subjective and difficult part of any tasting.
There is no miracle recipe for being able to recognize the aromas of a wine. The best way to progress is to taste, taste and taste again to build up a knowledge of the aromas as you go through the tastings.
There are, however, three factors that can help you build this memory of aromas:
- The first is to know the grape variety (s) that make up the wine. Indeed, each grape variety is a source of its own aromas.
Thus, for example, Chardonnay will necessarily present several of the following aromas: Lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, melon, apple, pear, almond, hawthorn, linden, honey, fresh butter, toast, toasted almond, toasted hazelnut ... according to its geographical origin and the type of vinification to which it was subjected.
By knowing the grape variety (s) used, you therefore have a limited list of aromas that may be present in the wine you taste.
- The second is to know the country from which the wine comes. In fact, roughly speaking, for a given country, you generally have a type of climate, wine-making habits and grape varieties usually used; these factors greatly determine the type of aromas you will find in the wine. This method is less reliable than knowing the grape variety, but by combining the two you further narrow the list of possible aromas.
So, always for my Chardonnay, if it comes from Chile, the possible aromas become: Lemon, melon, apple, pear, acacia, lime blossom, toasted almond, smoky note ...
- The third and most useful for building your scent memory is to rely on aroma vials.
There are sets of aroma vials that contain the aromas most commonly present in wine. These vials are accompanied by a guide that tells you for each aroma, in which type of wine (grape variety or country of origin) it is likely to be found. All you have to do is smell one of these vials, then smell immediately after your glass of wine. If the aroma is present, the similarity between the two will be evident to you. On the contrary, if it is not present, you will immediately feel that the wine does not have the aroma that you previously felt in the flask: you build your olfactory memory.
I am not here to advertise one or the other brand, but we must objectively recognize that Le Nez Du Vin by Jean Lenoir is formidable in terms of efficiency and quality.
The more different aromas there are, the more complex the wine. From an aromatic point of view, a quality wine is a wine with significant complexity (the complexity is medium for 5 aromas present and is high for 8 to 10 aromas) and an aromatic "balance".
Continued on January 18 ...