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The Art of Wine Tasting: Seeing is Believing

Wine: Seeing is Believing, how to asses wine by its color
Wine: Seeing is Believing

"The connoisseur does not drink wine but tastes its secrets." — Salvador Dalí

Hey there, fellow wine enthusiasts! Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned sipper, the journey of wine tasting begins with your eyes. Yep, before you even take that first sip, there's a whole world of information waiting to be discovered just by looking at the wine in your glass. So, let's dive into this visual adventure together!

Why the Focus on Color?

Have you ever thought about why we pay so much attention to the color of wine? Much like selecting clothes based on their color, the hue of a wine can tell us a lot about its character.

First impressions matter, and the color of wine is the first hint we get about its identity. As the German proverb says: "Das Auge isst ja bekanntlich mit"—we eat (and drink) with our eyes first.

What to Pay Attention To:

  • For white wines and rosés, clarity is key. A perfectly clear, crystalline wine is often a sign of high quality.

  • But carefull: Cloudiness could be a stylistic choice, like in German Federweißer or natural wines that skip filtration (Pet-Nat for example).

  • Sediment might look alarming, but it's just particles settling, often wine crystals or tannins.

  • These don't spoil the wine and are safe to drink. To avoid them, simply decant the wine.

Viscosity (Fluidity):

Ever noticed those little drops running down the side of your glass after you swirl the wine? These are called wine legs or wine tears (or Kirchenfenster in German), and they tell you about the wine's viscosity:

  • High: The wine moves easily and quickly flows.

  • Medium: Wine with average extractivity and medium flow rate.

  • Low: Dense, oily wine, moves slowly and flows slowly.

While wine tears don't directly tell you about the quality, they do hint at the concentration of various ingredients like alcohol and sugar.

Color and Hue

Wine is rarely a single, uniform color. Here's how to break it down:

  • Main Color: Hold the glass at eye level and observe.

  • Hue: Tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle and look at the wine from above. You'll notice the shades differ in the center and along the edge of the disc.

Color Intensity

The brightness of a wine's color can indicate its age and origin. For example:

  • Young Wines: Violet tones in reds and green tones in whites.

  • Peak Wines: Ruby/garnet for reds and lemon/gold for whites.

  • Old Wines: Yellow-brown to brown for whites and reds.

In general, red wines lose color saturation over time, while white wines become brighter. Wine from cooler climates is often paler and more acidic, while warmer climate wines are usually darker, denser, and sweeter.

(click on a picture to expand)

So next time you pour yourself a glass, take a moment to appreciate the visual cues your wine is offering. It’s an engaging way to deepen your understanding and enjoyment of the tasting experience. Cheers to seeing—and savoring—the secrets of your wine!

In next article we talk about the Aromatics.

Ready to Elevate Your Wine Knowledge?

Discover the art of wine tasting with our beginner-friendly course, "Introduction to Wine." This comprehensive program covers everything you need to become a wine connoisseur:

  • Step-by-Step Tasting Techniques: Master the methods to taste wine like a pro.

  • Identify Colors and Aromas: Learn to discern the subtle nuances in each glass.

  • Deepen Your Understanding: Explore the rich history of winemaking, proper service and storage, diverse grape varieties, and renowned wine regions.

In just 10 engaging modules, you'll gain the skills and confidence to appreciate and select wines with expertise. Join us on this flavorful journey and enhance your wine tasting experience. We look forward to welcoming you to the course!

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Q: Why is the color of wine important?

A: The color of wine can give you clues about its age, origin, and quality. It can also hint at the wine's flavor profile and potential taste.

Q: What does sediment in wine indicate?

Q: Do wine legs indicate quality?

Q: How does wine color change with age? 

Q: What should I look for when assessing wine clarity?

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