Monday, September 10, 2007

The eyes: looking at wine

It's time to taste. So pour a glass of wine. The colour tells us something – and appearances matter, because expectation does seem to guide our perception to a degree. If we’re expecting a wine to be great, or we’ve spent a lot of money on it, we’re more inclined to hunt for complexity, and give the wine the benefit of the doubt. If it’s a really cheap bottle we’re usually a bit more honest about its shortcomings.

In brief, with white wines, the darker the colour the more likely it is to have some age, or to have been given some oak treatment (such as being fermented in barrel). Richer, fatter whites tend to be more yellow/gold, while brighter, crisper whites tend to be more transparent, or have glints of green to them.

With red wines, as you’d expect, the darker the colour the more intense the flavours generally are. Warmer climate reds tend to be darker; younger reds also tend to be darker. Redder wines tend to be fresher and more acidic; blacker wines tend to be more lush and have lower acid. Oaked wines are generally darker. Bright purple is the sign of a very young wine. These are all generalities, but they can be useful cues if you are tasting blind.

next...take a sniff


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