Introduction to wine tasting

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Introduction to wine tasting

According to Juan Madrid, founding member of Mureda and Spain tasting champion and first national prize in 1965: “The tasting would be the reminder of all the organoleptic feelings that have been kept in mind and are expressed in the moment of wine tasting”.

Types of tasting:
· Comparative (connecting several wines)
· Blind (hiding the label or any data on it)
· Vertical (tasting of the same wine but from different vintages)
· Varietal wine (comparing wines from the same variety of grapes)

The tasting is executed in three stages:
· Visual analysis: Colour, transparency, shine, intensity, and harmony of the pigments and formation of bubbles.
· Analysis of the bouquets: fruity, flowery, herbaceous, roasted, spice; having also in mind its cleanness, complexity and intensity.
· Analysis of the feelings in the mouth: acidity, sweets impressions, astringency produced by the tannins, body and meaty, balance, tenancy of the bouquets.

The technique of the tasting is easy to learn but it is difficult to dominate its art. The typical instruments needed for tasting:
· a table covered by a white tablecloth
· a lamp to provide better lightning
· a container for the wine that is to be ruled out / discarded. (Spitton)
· a thin colourless glass with a long stem and narrow rim (lampshade)

Visual analysis
When uncorking a bottle, the first step is to analyse the cork. This should be slightly moistened by the wine, what shows that it has always been kept inclined in contact with the wine. When pressuring the cork, its flexibility has to be also taken into account as well as its bouquets to confirm that it only smells as a cork with a little bit of wine. When the cork shows strong and strange bouquets, it may show an spoiled wine. Risen this suspicion, it will be better to serve a little bit of wine in the glass to be tasted. Any bottle with a broken cork must be refused.
Once confirming that the cork is ok, the wine has to be served in a glass, but only a third of its capacity .The glass will be moved in circles and placed in front of a light. In that way we can check if the wine is clean and without sediments and it is in this moment where it is decided if it would be a good idea to decant the wine or to serve it directly in the glass.
At the same time, we have to check its shine, if it reflects the light in a vividly and cheerful way. If it were matt and spiritless, it would show its faults. If the glass is inclined over the white tablecloth, the intensity and shade of the wine can be appreciated.
White wines with green reflections or subtly gold are young wines, and those which have reflections of intense gold or amber are old wines (they have been maturing in wood or bad preserved).
Young Red wines show purplish colours that become copper as they get older.
When shaking the glass smoothly, it is confirmed, against the light, how the tears of the wine are formed. High-glycerine wines and those of high alcoholic content shed tears in the glass.
When sparkling wine is evaluated, it is observed that a good wine must be fizzy with very little and lively bubbles which are being constantly created. Bubbles go up forming a sparkling rosary. This feature usually holds great promise for other qualities.

Tasting analysis
This is the most important and decisive stage of tasting. To start with, the glass must be near the nose to check in a global way that there are no unpleasant odours in the wine. Vinegary, sulphured, garlic, rubber or paper smells have to be refused. That is the reason why it is extremely important to have the set of glasses completely clean and let them dry freely, in order to avoid mixing the bouquets.
When moving a glass, holding it by the stem, the bouquets of the wine are oxiginated, and it is the moment when the nose tries to recognize the smells of the wine. The best wines are always aromatic and complex, and they are opening, expanding or appearing in the glass. They become more expressive as they get more exposed to the air.
The first feeling, the most notable and the most difficult to explain, is the aromatic intensity. According to its power, the wine will be qualified because of its intensity from week to developed, going through other adjectives such as neutral, insipid, discreet, shut, aromatic, open, expressive, strong, and intense.
The following step is observing the aromatic cleanness, that is to say: its clarity from the absence of defects.
A more subjective notion that requires experience is observing the harmony of the smells: the wine will be unpleasant or complex, going through common, simple, fine, severe, elegant, refined, harmonious and with class.
The most spectacular exercise takes place at the end: the identification of the aromatic shades.
Usually, the following act is identifying a smell: raspberry, vanilla, rose or others… In this stage an instantaneous term will be used to describe the aroma without much reflection. But when a precise aroma is not identified, impressions will be observed grouping them by aromatic families.
To distinguish the aromas, different ranges will be classified:
· The primary or varietal aromas are very characteristic and identifiable, dominating series of fruits, floral, vegetables, minerals and sometimes spicy.
· The secondary aromas coming from yeasts, sugar transformation in alcohol and the malolactic fermentation are the most frequent and abundant in wines. Flowers, fruits, species and vegetable notes dominate in this range.
· Ranges multiply in maturing or bouquet aromas: floral, fruit, honey, wood, coffee, chocolates and others.

Analysis of the feelings in the taste
After analysing the aromas, degustation takes place. A small quantity of wine must be drunk and it has to be maintained in the mouth while stirring it for some seconds. The first contact with the wine is noticed in the lips and in the tip of the tongue.
Regarding temperature, parameters usually are: 10ºC for white wines, 11ºC for rosé wines, and 16ºC for red wines.
To taste the wine, it has to go through the tongue several times, pressing it against the palate to search for sweet feelings in the tip of the tongue. The lower and higher alcoholic graduation, is perceived also in the mouth as the alcohol produces a warm and sweet feeling.
Then, we will only look for acid and bitter feelings. The acid notes are noted in the laterals of the tongue and the bitter ones in the back part. These bitter tastes appear because of the tannins in the case of the red wines; these tannins leave the tongue rough and the lips, taut.
When the wine is warmed in the mouth, the aromas start to be noticed since mouth and nose are strongly connected.
To finish with the taste, the wine has to be swallowed and all the aromas and feelings remain in the mouth even after having being swallowed. What will allow distinguishing these aromas is this greater or lower persistence in taste. This is what is known as “aftertaste”.
Next, we will check the adquired knowledge along this small course, tasting our collection of Mureda’s wines. We may use the specific tasting notes of each of our wines.
Good luck!