The Eyes Have It
Wine tasting begins with the eyes.
Hold your glass of wine up to the light and look at its color, discern
its clarity. A wine should be clear and vibrant. White wines -not white
at all- have shades and gradations of color. They may be a light green,
the yellow of a flaxen-haired child, the golden brown color of straw.
Red wines are gemlike, and may be ruby-red, purple, brick red or even
have a tinge of brown. The rosés are shades of pink.
Before we taste, we smell and some
of our taste lies in the aromas we inhale. Don't be shy - give the glass
a swirl. This is not pretension, you are releasing the aroma in the
wine, the bouquet so prized by proud vintners. Try to identify the aromas
released and the thoughts evoked. When you inhale you will discover
fragrances that are floral or fruity, some that hint of oak from the
barrel in which the wine was aged. A wine can be musky, hinting of moss,
or spicy hinting of clove or nutmeg.
The Awakened Palate
Now that your taste buds are alive
and receptive to the wine, take a sip. No - don't swallow, it's time
for more swirling, this time in the mouth, while drawing in some air
at the same time. The full aroma is drawn out with that inhalation.
Now describe the taste in your mouth. Is it a dry, semi-dry, sweet or
semi-sweet wine? Is the taste predominantly velvety, silky, buttery,
or is it more robust, almost rustic? Notice the balance of the wine
- is the concentration of fruit, level of tannins, and acidity in total
harmony? Is it a heavy-bodied wine? Once you concentrate on these characteristics
you will identify the wines that you prefer.
And finally, swallow that delicious
wine. The memory will still be in your palate and this is the final
determination in finding the wines you prefer. The aftertaste should
be like the melody of a beautiful song, one that you want to hear again.
In France aftertaste has is measured as a "caudalie." If the
flavor remains for one second after you've swallowed, that wine has
achieved one caudalie. A really good wine will climb higher and achieve
many caudalies. The best wines make the strongest impressions with both
aroma and aftertaste.
You are on your way to becoming a connoisseur.