I am Manon, I come from France and I would love to talk to you about wine tasting. It is a skill that everyone is able to try and you can never be wrong about what you say! How amazing is that, you already know how to taste wine like a pro.
There are three types of grapes: white, red or rosé. If it’s red you better not to put the bottle in the fridge or every french alive will pluck its eyes out. If it’s white or rosé, it is okay to put them in the fridge. Just for the sake of it, you need a wine glass. Because why would you rather sip:
That’s right the left photo. Okay so, steps are pretty simple to remember: the eye, the nose and the mouth.
1. the EYE
First, you want to look at the dress of the wine, “la robe”. What does the colour tell you? Is it ruby, burgundy, crimson? Eventually, it is linked to the quality of the wine. Afterwards, you want to analyse the transparency, can you see your friend’s face through the glass? Is it a light red, a pale yellow or rosé? This information usually refers to the heaviness of the wine, the density. It also tells you about the variety. Pale wines do not have a great concentration of grape so they will be lighter in the mouth and quite watery. Otherwise, they will be pretty rich. From the description, you can tell I love my dresses rich, like my men.
Now you want to take the wine for a spin. See the beauty of the expression, the wine has a dress and you are there to take it for a spin, beautiful. In doing that, you are looking at the texture of the wine. Does it turn quickly? That means that the dress is quite fluid. Does it turn more slowly? Then you a bigger density.
When you finished dancing, you can spot “les larmes de vin” (see the left picture). It translates as “tears of wine”. It gives you information on the density of wine as well. If you see them, then you can turn to your friends and be like “uh, this wine is dense”. If you don’t see tears, then yeah it’s not that dense. These tears are easily spotted on red but if you look closely enough they are noticeable on white and rosé.
In brief, look for the dress, colour and transparency.
2. The NOSE
So this is the time when we introduce flavours to you! Remember that you cannot be wrong on what you sense, so if it smells like your aunt Petunia then it smells like your aunt Petunia. To be honest, the first aromas I noticed was wine flavour. Then I paid attention and I could discern different types. You have seven categories that you can refer to for inspiration:
- fruity: apple, banana, berry (rasp, blue, straw, etc).
- floral: Rose, tulip, orchid…
- spices: cinnamon, ginger, parsley…
- vegetal: veggies, grass, bark…
- empyreumatic (burnt food): roasted hazelnut, toasted bread, cocoa…
- animal: leather, furs, musks
- default: acetic, corky, alcoholic
I know that might surprise you to find these flavours in wine, but if you look at the different categories, it helps you sort out some of the aromas. However, there is no need to use all seven categories, it all depends on you. Maybe you can only taste fruit flavours: a pinch of raspberry, a bit of peach. Or maybe it is grilled almonds with some cloves, it is up to your imagination. And remember, no wrong answers.
In brief, smell the wine like a French.
3. The MOUTH
Finally, you can try it “en bouche” or as the English ‘in mouth’. So pick your glass up and try one sip. There is a lot to tell from one sip and not only what it tastes like. But let’s focus on the taste first. You can refer back to the 7 categories mentioned above but they don’t have to match the ones you noticed with your nose. It could have smelled like your aunt Petunia but now it could be closer from your mom’s overburnt lasagna. If one aroma is different from the one you smelled that’s fine too.
You also want to look at the effect of tannins. They are tiny molecules and some wines have more tannins than others. So look out, if the sip leaves your mouth quite dry then you can tell “gosh this is full of tannins” and people will think you are either cool or high on something.
Also, you want to try and move the wine around in your mouth. You could feel like the wine is quite round, the texture is quite smooth and the wine takes time to move around. If so, it means it is “rond en bouche” or round. It could also run really fluidly. Every adjective that you feel are important.
Last but not least, when you swallow, pay attention to how long the tastes stay. If the taste stays more than 2 seconds, it defines as long in the mouth. If it does not stay or instantly disappear, it’s short in the mouth.
Now you have all the elements to appreciate wine to its fullest. You just need eyes, a nose and a mouth. For the eyes, look for the dress, colour and transparency. For the nose, well breath, that’s it. For the mouth, keys element are taste, texture and duration.
I know people usually prefer to start with white but it is also good to broaden the horizon and try the reds (rosé can be left aside, they are the redheads of the wine). I advise you to try it with friends so that you guys can talk about your own experiences but if you are more of an introvert then you can also talk to your cat to see what he thinks about it.
Reference: Featured picture from Your Amalfi Coast