Wine tasting like a gentleman
Taking the time to taste the wine is a bit like taking the time to stop and therefore it is to appreciate it more. Here is how to do a wine tasting like a gentleman
Wine tasting like a gentleman: The technique
Observe the colour and the reflections; there are a whole range of colours for white wine, rosé and red. See if it is still (without bubbles), or effervescent; light, dark or even opaque. Then in closing the clarity includes a notion of transparency.
On the nose
the first nose is the first breath of the wine, often it will be little or at best moderately open; turn it delicately and the wine opens up more, it is more expressive and we will talk about the second nose; the nose is clean if there are no blemishes. Consider the aromatic intensity and character; is it fruity, floral, vegetal, animal, spicy, empyreumatic (smoky), woody and or oxidative (notes of hazelnuts or curry)?
On the Palate
Let in a little trickle of air to capture the flavours (bitter, salty, sweet, sour and umami). The key is the balance! Is the wine dry (unsweetened) or semi-dry, sweet, mellow or sweet syrupy? Feel and describe the level of acidity, ideally we prefer fresh or sometimes crisp acidity. For a red, consider the level of tannins (light, medium or full-bodied) and their quality (are they soft, smooth, firm or rough?) For sparkling wines, are the bubbles fine or coarse, are they abundant? Is the wine long or short on the palate? In short, what is the overall quality of the wine?
Wine tasting like a gentleman: Wine storage
Now let’s talk about storing a bottle, it can vary from one wine to another. For example, once opened, some wines without or with a minimum of added sulphites should be drunk during the same day ideally; otherwise slow oxidation can affect them. Other than that, for other wines, putting them in the refrigerator can also help sometimes, that’s what I support. Removing the air can also help by using a wine pump. Other wines with more alcohol, or more tannic in the reds, can sometimes be kept for a few days, or more, as can sweet wines.
For the wines of guard, avoid temperature variations, excessive heat, vibrations, odours and light. The ideal being a wine cellar if not a temperature and humidity-controlled cellar. It is sometimes better to seek advice for some wines when in doubt. Some basic rules (there are sometimes exceptions): a young everyday white or red wine can hardly be kept for more than 1–2 years, otherwise there will be a slow loss every year. There is no point in keeping them too long elsewhere. However, for more qualitative wines, a longer storage is possible to improve them. Now let’s taste while keeping in mind the concepts of tasting.
Wine tasting like a gentleman: The Glassware
Let’s take a look at some parts of the glass first; the rim is the part where you put your lips. In general, the finer the rim, the more aromas will emerge. The goblet is the container for wine. The chimney is the part above the widest section. The stem (or the leg) is the vertical part under the cup (holding the glass by the stem is best). Finally, the foot is the part at the bottom which is placed on the table. The material can be glass, crystal (lead glass) or crystalline (lead-free). Note that the higher the percentage of lead, the more fragile the glass will be. Ideally, the glass should be transparent to see the colour of the wine and other beverages. It is suggested to choose the shape of the glass according to the wine that will be drunk. For example, a classy Burgundy or Bordeaux will require a larger glass, and ideally higher quality for the best experience.
As for brands, crystal makers Riedel, Spiegelau, Scott Zwiesel, Stölzle and Zalto to name those few, offer beautiful models each with their own particularities. However, for a few years now, my crush has returned to the young crystal factory Lehmann SA which was born in Reims (Champagne region) in 1988. The company is managed by two enthusiasts: Gérard Basset, best sommelier in the world 2010 and Gérard Lehmann, creator of glasses for more than 30 years and perfectionist having collaborated with the greatest vineyards in France. The following Lehmann models caught my attention from a comprehensive range.
Mainly for Sparkling: Jamesse Range
The pronounced dive at the bottom of the cup promotes long and precise effervescence and is a rotating starting point. The great and generous roundness of each glass allows the wine to be supported with maximum stretch. The glasses close slowly towards the top part and allow time for the aromas to release. Choose the size according to experience and taste. The bigger the model, the more the wine will open up and embellish high quality sparkling wines. These glasses can also be used for light reds and whites. These models are either machine blown or mouth blown and lead-free. In illustration, the mouth blown glass Jamesse Grand Champagne.
For Sparkling, Whites and Reds, an Universal Glass: Absolus Range
This beautiful wine glass from Lehmann has a tumbler that can hold 380 ml or 470 ml. It is a universal type glass, which can be used for tasting any type of wine (effervescent, white or red) but also several light beers and ciders. Its thin stem and finesse will satisfy both professionals and amateurs. This shiny lead-free crystalline glass is the perfect everyday glass. A must! Consider Absolus 47 for more tannic wines. In illustration, the Absolute 38.
Top of the Range for Great Whites and Reds: Psyché, Dionysos and Ariane Range
High-end glasses made of lead-free crystalline, very refined and with a finer rim, they are also lighter. They therefore lose somewhat rigidity, and the glass seems to be in slight subtle motion if it is handled, which has the effect of shaking the aromatic molecules which rise in the chimney. Therefore the result is sublimated as much in the aromatic as in the taste: the quintessence!
Cheers, and enjoy your future tastings! You now have a basis for a wine tasting like a gentleman.
The Lehmann glassware are offered at Alambika. Visit the Alambika website here.
Article originally published in Gentologie Magazine Issue 6 and adapted for online reading.