Is wine's color less important than aroma or taste?
When tasting wine, I recommend thatyou use your face’s sensory organs from top to bottom.
First look at color, clarity and viscosity with the eyes, then assess bouquet with the nose, and finally learn about taste with the mouth. These are the logical steps to appreciate your wine.
You may be tempted to check appearance quickly and move on to bouquet and taste, as being likely to convey more information. However, this is as important as stretching when you play sport. Not all muscles will be used equally, but all must be used to achieve optimal performance. Wine’s appearance conveys a great deal of information.
Generally with white wine color becomes darker with time in newer oak barrels, with aging and with increasing sugar levels, particularly if the residual sugar content is derived from late harvesting of grapes affected by botrytis cinerea. Even grape variety can affect color. Pinot Grigio and Gewurztraminer for example, often display more color as a result of having darker skins that may very slightly tinge the juice of ripe grapes.
With red wine, there is also a great deal to be learned from color. Some grape varieties naturally have lower pigmentation levels. This is often the case with Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Young red wine has a vibrant hue, all colors are in the red, crimson, even black spectra. As the wine ages the color begins to assume some earth tones; yellows, tans, even browns.
Typically, when a red wine displays tulle hues, like red bricks, the wine is approaching or at maturity.
When the color advances to definite yellows and browns, the wine is often too old and past its best. This can result from extended aging or problems causing accelerated aging such as premature oxidation. In this case we often say the wine is brown or browning, meaning that it is beyond its optimal drinking window.
So, don’t shortchange observing appearance, you can learn a great deal and enhance your enjoyment!
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Selected by Peter Koff MW
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