We are often impressed by professional wine tasters and the surprisingly specific vocabulary they use. Without going so far as to smell mahogany or any other subtle aroma in a glass of wine, it is though quite easy to make a complete and relevant sensory analysis. Taste your wine (almost) like a pro thanks to Prodégustation, the major company giving wine tasting lessons in France for almost 15 years.
1st step: the view
To start, you must tilt your glass above a white background and under a source of light. This will enable you to get various information about your wine:
- Its limpidity: to detect the possible presence of airborne particles (defect)
- Its acidity: if the tears (droplets that form along the side of the glass) are thick, your wine is fat. If they are thin and drop back faster, then your wine is acid.
- Its age: thanks to the color of the wine, you can guess if it’s a young or an old vintage
NB: for white wines, the color can go from pale green (for young wines) to amber (for evolved wines). For red wines, it goes from purple to tile.
2nd step: the smell
This step is aimed at identifying the aromas.
- The 1st nose consists in smelling the wine before swirling the glass.
- The 2nd nose consists in smelling the wine after swirling the glass, once the aromas had been freed by the contact with the air.
Aromas are sorted by families, themselves divided into sub-families. Among the main families you can find the fruit, floral, vegetal, spicy, animal, dairy or woody ones.
NB: for tasters with a strong wine knowledge, those aromas provide a lot of information about the grape varieties that compose the wine. For instance, it is proved that you can find some quince aromas in wines made from chenin blanc or black pepper aromas in wines made from syrah.
3rd step: the taste
After observing and smelling your wine comes the time of the proper tasting. You need to take a small quantity of wine in your mouth, then suck up some air through your lips and breathe out with your nose in order to make the aromas circulate. Then you can either spit or swallow your wine. During this process, 3 points are of major importance:
- The attack phase is the first impression that the wine makes on your palate. It can be soft, light or heavy.
- The evolution phase enables you to analyze the wine texture and its taste (acidity, bitterness…).
- The finish is the time during which the flavor impression lasts after the wine is swallowed or spit.
NB: the retro-nasal phase (when you breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. This technique enables to free a maximum of aromas and proves that the use of several senses (here the smell and the taste) plays a major part in a wine tasting.