How does a wine tasting work?

Wine tasting is a feast for the senses. There are 3 main stages: observing, smelling and tasting. To taste a bottle of wine is to conquer its aromas and take the time to appreciate its flavors.

Steps to follow for a successful tasting

Open your bottle well in advance and carafe the wine if necessary. Be sure to respect the serving temperature. If you don't, you may miss out on some of the aromas.

Choose suitable glassware. Then, don't overfill the glass so that you can handle it easily.

First step: visual inspection, admire the dress

Before tasting a wine, observe its appearance. To do this, tilt your glass against a white wall, under a light source and analyze :

  • The wine color. By observing the intensity of the color, you can distinguish the ratio between the amount of skin and grape juice in the maceration process. This stage of the winemaking process influences the color of a wine, but it is not the only culprit. An expert eye can recognize the age of a wine by the intensity of its color and reflections. Shades of purple and violet are sometimes synonymous with youth. However, this is not a rule: intensity also varies according to grape variety, growing climate and winemaking. To grasp the subtleties of the color, tilt the glass and observe the wine at the fringe, where the amount of wine is thinnest.
  • The clarity. It is a visual factor that determines the degree of filtration carried out during the winemaking process. Cloudy wines are generally excluded from tastings. While the clarity of a wine is traditionally considered a criterion of quality, it must be qualified. The turbidity of certain wines should not be systematically considered as a defect; an unfiltered organic wine or a great wine may in fact turn out to be less limpid. A decant into a decanting carafe de décantation will help eliminate the "troublemakers": solid deposits and tannic residues.
  • The viscosity. Simply examine the wine's tears (the drops along the side of the glass). The thinner they are, the more acidic and lively the wine. Conversely, the thicker they are, the fatter and rounder the wine. A full-bodied wine is generally higher in alcohol and sweeter. This criterion for visual analysis of wine is also felt on the palate.
  • The Shine. This characteristic reflects a wine's ability to reflect light. It also indicates to connoisseurs the age of the vintage: young wines have a more pronounced brilliance than old ones.

Second step: the olfactory examination, point out the tip of your nose

So as not to influence your sense of smell when tasting a wine, prefer a place free of parasitic odors (candles, perfume diffusers, etc.). This examination, known as the nose, is divided into two phases:

  • The first nose. Bring your nose close to the glass without shaking it. Determine whether the wine is open (very aromatic) or closed (not very aromatic). If the wine smells unpleasant, it may be corked. You can detect the wine's tendencies (fruity, floral, vegetal, woody, spicy...) at this stage.
  • The second nose. This time you must aerate the wine,turning your glass in a circular motion. Dip your nose into the glass, close your eyes and travel through the flavors. You can determine the aromas more precisely using the aroma chart.
Olfactory analysis is a complex process. The more you practice, the sharper your nose will become, and the easier it will be to determine the aromas of your red and white wines.

Third step: the taste test, let yourself be carried away by taste

To allow the aromas to circulate, you need to toast the wine. Take a small amount into your mouth by sucking the wine through your lips. Taste analysis is divided into three stages:

  • The attack. This is the first impression, whether it's faint, frank or intense. You can sense whether the wine is bitter, acidic, sweet, salty, or balanced.
  • The mid-mouth. It's a matter of chewing the wine to make it turn in the mouth and analyze the texture and flavors. At this point, you can feel the tannins in red wine and the acidity and freshness in white wine.
  • The final. You determine the length in the mouth, the length of time you feel the aromas.

wine picto

Aveine's advice

The ideal time for a tasting is before a meal, when your senses are at their most alert. To document your progress and classify your different wines, use a notebook to record the results of your tastings.