How to taste wine properly?

Here is a short manual that explains the basics of wine tasting.


1) Observe

Maybe you've seen your friends raise their glasses before you drink it. This is not to check that the glass is clean or to “gambei”, but to examine the colour of the wine, in other words its colour. Here are some terms that can help you describe the colour of a wine: purple, garnet, ruby (red wine), golden, lemon or amber (white wine) salmon, raspberry or orange (rosé wine). Little tip: to admire the colour from every angle, place your glass in the light and in front of a white background, such as a wall or a sheet of paper. You can also talk about its intensity: bright, light, dark?


It's all well and good to have a vocabulary, but you still need to know what it means and what it refers to exactly. Be aware that the analysis of the colour can give you a lot of information about the wine you are tasting. For example, a Burgundy red wine is usually light in colour, unlike a Bordeaux, which is usually dark. In some cases, the colour can also give you clues about the age or alcohol content of a wine. A white wine with a brown colour, for example, may suggest that it has begun to evolve.


2) Sniff

The mania that connoisseurs have for dipping their nose into their glass can sometimes surprise or seem superfluous. However, this stage, called "the nose", is very precious for judging the quality of a wine. In addition, it allows us to detect whether the wine has a defect. If you smell a wet, corky or rotten smell, in short a suspect smell, it is likely that your wine has a defect. Then, the nose can also inform you about the evolution potential of a wine. And that's where it gets interesting.


Smell the wine a first time, if it doesn’t satisfy your nostril then,swirl the wine in your glass once or twice and smell again. You may be surprised to find that the wine reveals many more aromas. This is called the second nose. In most cases, you will smell fruity or flowery aromas, which correspond to the primary aromas and come from the grape variety. If you taste a red wine, you have a 95% chance of detecting notes of red or black fruits such as blackberries or strawberries. For white wine, one will speak rather of yellow fruits (peach, apricot) or citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit) and white flowers.


3) Count

"That's it, I can taste it" ? Yes, after having carefully observed and smelled the wine, you can finally taste it. But be careful, because the taste analysis of a wine is not a simple matter. Remember two essential things that will have to be determined: its balance and its length in the mouth. Take a sip and run it over the entire surface of your tongue. Concentrate and try to analyse what your tongue is feeling: a rather bitter, sweet, harsh, sour taste? These questions are used to evaluate what is called the balance or harmony of a wine: a quality criterion sought by most winemakers, except of course if they wish to bring out one flavour more than another. Once this first impression has been analysed, keep the wine in the mouth and suck in a little air. This rather noisy technique corresponds to retro-olfaction and is used to identify the aromas of a wine.


It's time to look at the length in the mouth. Perhaps you have already noticed when tasting a wine that the aromas stay more or less long in the mouth. In oenology, this phenomenon also known as "aromatic persistence" is measured in caudalies (1 caudalie = 1 second). Taste the wine again and count in your head until the sensations on your taste buds disappear. Once the exercise is over, you will be able to judge its aromatic persistence. To give you a more precise idea of the value of length in the mouth, a wine is considered "good" when its aromatic persistence is equivalent to or greater than 6 caudalies. Above 10, it is considered exceptional.