Which wine to serve at your Christmas dinner ?
When we talk about the hare of the meal, we are talking about a first wine with a very nice acidity. When I talk to you about acidic wines, it is immediately white wines that come to mind, and you are right, they are the ones that have the most acidity.
There is also another category of wine to open the dance, sparkling wines. Indeed, carbon dioxide activates the acid receptors in the oral cavity, which will enhance the mechanical and chemical stimulation of the taste buds.
If you opt for this second choice, you will have to be careful to choose raw or extra raw vintages, i.e. with no residual sugar, otherwise you risk obtaining the opposite effect to the one desired. Sugar, like the high alcohol content, tires rather than stimulates the taste buds. Therefore, they are both to be avoided.
Now let's look at the second rule. If you have ever participated in a tasting with a professional, you should know this. When tasting a series of wines, there is a certain order of service. For the course of a meal, we work as follows. The whites are left for starters and fish dishes, while the reds are reserved for main courses and meat dishes. Sparkling wines can be added as an aperitif and sweet wines for dessert.
You are noticing that, in the end, the first rule given with the hare wine applies in the continuity of the meal. Sparkling wines are perceived as more acidic because of the carbon dioxide they contain, and white wines are more acidic than red wines. Finally, the
Sweet wines are the ones that seem the least acidic because of the residual sugar. In other words, each type of wine is less acidic than the previous one, which induces the famous acidity cascade: each new bottle is introduced by a previous one that is more acidic.
Here's the third rule. While going down on the acid component of each new bottle, we must, on the contrary, go up on two other aspects: the intensity of the wine and the persistence. Intensity is the power of the wine in the mouth and persistence (also called intense aromatic persistence) is the time the wine remains in the mouth.
While the first, intensity, is easily understood, the second, persistence, deserves some explanation. In concrete terms, intense aromatic persistence is the length of time the wine will be felt in the mouth at an equal and constant intensity after it has been swallowed or spit out. To give you an idea, a persistence of less than three seconds is synonymous with a wine of very low quality, whereas a wine that lasts more than twelve seconds is exceptional.
Why do we always try to offer more intense and persistent wines as the tasting progresses? If you have a wine that has good intensity and persistence that is correct in the absolute, drinking it after another wine that has even more intensity and persistence will make it seem light and tasteless when it is not. It is just suffering from the contrast effect and its perceived quality suffers from the comparison.
The context in which you drink your bottle strongly influences the pleasure you derive from it. It is fundamentally this pleasure aspect of tasting that one seeks to increase by working on one's knowledge of wine. The increase in intensity and persistence can be summed up as follows: start with the least intense and least persistent wine, and increase these two variables over time to enjoy your good bottles to their full potential.
To sum up, to make a selection that lets each wine express itself fully, the following three rules must be respected.
First rule : find the hare wine, that is to say a first wine with a nice acidity that stimulates the taste buds.
Second rule : respect the cascade of acidity, that is to say the order of colours, i.e. sparkling wine, white wine, red wine and sweet wine, making sure to avoid back and forth.
Third rule : take into account the increase in intensity and persistence, making sure that each new wine served is more intense and persistent than the previous one.
Remember, in this matter more than in others, there is only one solution: tasting!