How to taste a wine ?
Wine tasting is quite an art ; Knowing how to taste a wine is not improvised, but don't panic !
There are as many ways to taste as there are tasters. To approach this question is therefore to rush into a very vast universe. But it is also much easier than it seems. If you enjoy tasting, it's because your method is the right one!
All you need to do is to have in mind a few notions that will help you to better understand a wine. And as with any method, the experience will allow you to forge your own.
You can admire the bubbles in a glass of champagne or the colour of an old sauternes. But forget about the thighs, or the legs. It's useless or almost useless! The visual examination actually gives us little information. The colour of the wine (i.e. its colour) may indicate that a wine is more or less concentrated. But there are many counter-examples. Some grape varieties (such as grenache) can be slightly dyer and give full-bodied wines. It is only in the context of a blind tasting that this phase is really useful: it can give an indication of the age of the wine. We then look not at the color but at the reflections.
For a white wine, look at the reflections of the disc by placing your eye at the level of the glass. A white wine first has green reflections, then silver, gold and bronze. A white wine with silvery highlights will probably be one or two years old.
The nose is analysed in two stages: first the first nose. You can smell the wine without airing it, that is, without moving the glass. Generally, this nose is not very powerful. In fact, this is how we identify the defects of wine. As the aromas are still not very present, the defects "jump on the nose", like the famous "cork taste", also very perceptible on the nose.
The second nose: you air your wine, and then (normally) it opens up, its aromas are multiplied tenfold. Wine is a living product that reacts with aeration. If you don't feel anything, it may be that the wine still needs to be aerated (in the bottle or in a decanter). It is interesting to move your nose in your glass to detect new aromas. We can play the game of aroma recognition (we recommend the "Nose du vin" boxes to practice). But recognizing that a wine smells like peony is not essential, far from it. A few points to know: the aromas are not added by the winegrower (well normally... J). A wine that smells like roses has not macerated with petals. And precisely, we can group 3 families of flavours :
- The primary aromas that come from the grape variety (a wine made with gewurztraminer, often expresses aromas of rose and lychee)
- Secondary aromas: they come from fermentation.
- Tertiary aromas: these are the aromas that come to us from the breeding process. Were the wines aged in barrels? In new barrels etc. These aromas are called "empyreumatic": it is the roasted side, or vanilla that can be found in wines.
For a red one, you tilt your glass in front of a white sheet of paper and look at the opposite side. The reflections are first of all cherry or raspberry, to evolve towards the tile.
This is probably the most important phase. It is important to hold your glass by the foot. Because the grip of the glass will influence where the wine will arrive in our mouth. However, the sensors for acidity, sweetness, bitterness and acidity are not located in the same places in the mouth. It will thus be necessary to turn the wine in the mouth to fully decipher it. It is even advisable to suck in air at the same time (we talk about grilling the wine) as we taste it to air it out. It's not rude to make noise while tasting wine!
Finally, we will be particularly attentive to the 3 phases:
- The attack: we mainly look at its power: is it frank, flexible.
- The mid-palate: it is at this moment that the flavours on the palate unfold, the acidity for the whites, and the tannins for the reds. At that time, we can analyze the texture of the wine.
- The finish: what flavours does the wine evolve towards? And above all, how long does the wine last in the mouth.
With the help of experience, we distance ourselves from the classic and perhaps academic method of tasting. We must be careful not to fall into a logic of "recognition", of flavours, grape varieties, aromas to the point of forgetting the pleasure dimension of the wine. Thus some tasters focus almost exclusively on the palate: the texture of the wine (essential to make food/wine combinations) and its "geometric" construction (the wine can give a slender, spherical impression etc.). The nose is then only an invitation to continue and deepen the tasting. Try to taste a wine in a completely opaque glass. You will see, the sensations take on another dimension !