Sniffing a glass of wine is one of the greatest pleasures of tasting. But identifying the aromas can be a difficult task especially for beginners.
When tasting wine it’s important to select the correct shaped glass and serve the wine at the right temperature. Both of these factors will affect the wine’s aroma. Select a tulip-shaped glass (for red, white and rosé wines) and only fill it to a third full. If the wine is too cold its aromas will be suppressed. If the wine is too warm its aromas will vaporise too quickly and be overpowered by alcohol fumes.
How to analyse the aroma of a wine
Approach this in three stages:
FIRST NOSING - Without swirling the wine in the glass take your first sniff. What you’re trying to identify here is whether there are any undesirable smells and then capture the delicate, volatile aromas of the wine that are present in the
Our first contact with wine is visual and a lot can be revealed about a wine from its appearance.
Evaluating the appearance of a wine is the first stage of three employed when tasting wine (the others being aroma and taste).
A wine’s appearance is made up of four areas: the colour, clarity, the surface and meniscus, and the legs. We’ll look at each of these areas in detail below.
The Colour of Wine
When wine is poured the first thing we notice is its colour. The best way to get a good look at the colour is to hold the glass against a white background or to the palm of your hand. Colour is evaluated by hue and intensity.
The words used to describe a wine's hue often come from the world of precious stones, metals, flowers, and fruit - ruby, topaz, gold, copper, rose, violet, lemon, cherry, etc
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The Cork Oak
The bark of cork oak is a unique material in that it has microscopic suckers that grip the bottle neck making it ideal for sealing glass bottles.
It’s impervious to liquids, does not react with wine, and does not rot. However, cork can be affected by weevils and fungi which leads to a wine being corked or having a tainted aroma or flavour.
The cork oak grows in the western Mediterranian and Portugal. Its bark is stripped every 12 years but only the fourth, fifth, and sixth strippings produce the highest quality cork. These trees have a lifetime of 150 to 200 years.
Preparing the cork
After stripping the bark in large planks they are left out in the o
Today, in many regions, the properties of new oak barrels are used for red wine and, to a lesser extent, for white wines such as Chardonnay. A wine that’s aged in oak gains spicy and toasted or grilled flavours.
Barrel Ageing - A Recent Fashion
Since the 1970s, when oaky flavours in wine started to become fashionable, ageing wine in new oak barrels became widespread. But it’s not just for the oaky flavours that a winemaker may decide to age wine in a barrel.
Size and Age of Barrels
The word barrel is used generically to describe all wooden barrels. However, barrels come in different sizes. The most well-known barrels are the Bordeaux, which holds 225 litres, and the Burgandy, which holds 228 litres.
Over time and through a process of trial and error, the ideal size for a barrel was determined (an average capacity of between 200 and 230 litres became accepted) and the Bordeaux bar
Maturation takes place between the end of fermentation and bottling. Once the wine is bottled, ageing takes over.
Aims and Duration of Maturation
Winemakers have two objectives when maturing their wine:
to clarify the wine; and
to allow the wine to develop and acquire complex flavours.
The length of maturation depends on the type of wine being produced. For simple wines maturation will last a few weeks or even days. For most wines, the maturation period will be a few months but for high-quality wines, maturation can take two years or more.
Depending on the type of wine being produced maturation may take place in large scale tanks or in small volume oak barrels.
After fermentation wine still contains small particles of grape material, yeast, and bacteria suspended in the liquid. Known as lees,
Fermentation is a natural process that has been used for centuries all over the world to create alcoholic drinks.
There are two basic phases in fermentation: alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation.
Fermentation is a complex yet natural process and begins once the sugars inside the grape come into contact with the natural yeasts present on the thin film that covers each grape berry. These yeasts, which are small organisms, feed on the sugars and excrete carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol). There are other by-products of the fermentation process such as glycerol, which make the wine rich, esters (aromatic) compounds, aldehydes, and acids. All of these by-products make a significant contribution to the flavour of wine and are mainly responsible for many secondary aromas in the wine.
Alcoholic fermentation will end when all the sugars have been converted to alcohol. If
Making red wine is similar in process to producing white wine in that it involves transforming the must into alcohol.
One of the fundamental differences when making red wine is maceration.
This is the infusion stage where the colour, tannins, and aromatics of the grape skins and pulp are dissolved in the juice, which gives the wine its colour and character.
Maceration techniques will vary depending on the grape variety, local traditions, and climate.
Red grapes are gently crushed and then de-stemmed. The resulting must is transferred into temperature controlled stainless steel or wooden vats. Whilst in these vats the skins and pulp will gradually rise to the top forming what’s called a cap. Over time the colour, tannins, and aromatics within the cap will transfer to the juice, a