Ever thought of a new wine as a mystery you, the connoisseur version of Sherlock Holmes, are ready to solve? In fact, playing wine detective is easier than you may think. A wine’s appearance reveals more about it than we’d normally expect. So the next time you go wine tasting, try out these tips and see the difference in your experience.
There are a few vitally important visual aspects when it comes to judging wine’s appearance: clarity, brightness, color, and rim variation.
Determine if the wine looks clear or hazy. This reveals whether or not a wine has been filtered. If it looks clear, chances are it has been. We’ll save the debate of whether or not filtering wine is a good thing for a later entry. All you need to know now is it is simply a way to achieve a purified look for the wine.
Tilt the glass and put it against a white background. If it looks cloudy, there are two possible explanations: either the wine is flawed, or perhaps it’s an older red wine with sediment mixed into the solution. It is important to take into account the color of the wine. Usually it is easy to associate white wine as being on the more “brilliant” side of the scale and red wine as rarely brilliant. This is due to the intensity and pigmentation of the color that inhibits the reflection of light.
Now let us look at the color of the wine.
Tip the glass away from you and observe the color at the edge–you can keep holding it against the white background if you want. Normally, orange or browning suggests aging wine. The rule of thumb for color is that a white wine deepens in color as it ages, whereas red wine loses color and gets lighter. Here are some rough color scales:
White wines: Straw – Yellow – Gold – Brown
Pink wines: Pink – Salmon – Brown
Red wines: Purple – Ruby red – Garnet (brown or yellow) – Brown
Aging in wine is also hinted at the glass rim. If the wine is more than ten years old there could be noticeable gradations of color in the glass rim. The color of wine at the center is deeper than the color at the rim, and this is easily spotted in red wines. White wines, however, may only display after considerable years.
And there you have it! Good luck, don’t stress the details too much and have fun wine tasting.