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Wine Characteristics – Sight

Wine Sight Characteristics.

Wine experts around the world will tell you that there is much more to evaluating a wine than its taste. At the most basic level there are three areas of wine evaluation in a wine tasting. Sight, Scent and Flavor characteristics in wine are all areas that a wine expert will be paying attention to. We will start with wine sight characteristics and in future articles we will get into wine nose and taste.

An astonishing amount of information can be determined about a wine just from looking at it.

There are a lot of factors in the sight. The clarity, color, concentration, rim variation and whether there is gas or sediment present in the wine are all clues as to what you can expect from the wine before you even smell or taste it.

When you are looking at the clarity of a wine, it is fairly easy to tell if the wine is clear, medium clear or cloudy without getting too much into the crossover. Clarity allows you to assess whether the wine was filtered or not. This does not necessarily indicate the quality of the wine. There are debates as to whether or not filtering the wine diminishes the flavors. That is really a matter of opinion and a decision that you will have to make for yourself as you become a wine expert yourself.

After you have assessed the clarity, take a look at the color of the wine. Color can tell you both the possible intensity, and the age of the wine. When looking at white wines you’ll find that the colors start out light and clear, become richer yellows and golds until they become brown; the opposite is true for red. Red wines begin purple and become lighter as they age, moving through ruby, garnet and eventually brick and orange. The reason for the wine colors aging differently is that as white wines oxidize they tend to darken. Imagine an apple slice left on the counter for several hours; the slice darkens as it’s exposed to oxygen. Red wines lighten because the color and tannin (something that will be touched on later) literally fall out of the wine and produce the grainy sediment that can accumulate on the bottom of bottles and occasionally, when you get the last pour, end up in the bottom of your glass.

With color comes concentration. It’s  Tempered Soda Lime Sight Glass fairly simple to determine the concentration of the wine. If it is an inky purple color, then the wine has a high concentration; the rule also applies for whites with gold having a high concentration. Conversely, low concentration whites have almost no color and reds have a very light ruby color. Again, the concentration of the wine can be an indication of the amount of flavor in the wine. There are always exceptions, but it can be used as a general rule; the lighter the wine color the more effusive it will be.

Rim variation ties directly into the color of the wine. The easiest way to find the rim variation is to tilt your glass at a 45 degree angle and look at where the wine meets the glass. What you should see is a change in color. An inky purple wine might have a ruby rim, while a pale straw colored wine might have a silvery or green rim. Finding green in a white wine both in the rim and the main color of the wine generally indicates that the white is very young. What you are seeing is actually chlorophyll from the grapes.

Unrelated to color is viscosity. This is most commonly noticed as “tears” or “legs” that drip down the side of the glass after being swirled. This indicates two things about the wine: sugar content and alcohol. Large, thick, slow-moving tears show one or the other, or possibly both. Alcohol has a reaction with the glass that causes the wine to adhere to the surface of the glass. The more alcohol the slower and larger the tears. This is also true for sugar. When drinking most table wines you will not encounter much sugar, so if you are seeing large slow moving tears that should indicate that there is a fair amount of alcohol in the wine. The best example of the sugar and alcohol combination is in port. If there is very little of either you will experience something called sheeting, which means the wine simply falls down the glass without adhering. The perfect example would be to swirl a glass of port and watch what happens.

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