We are going to break this into 5 different postings as not to overwhelm everyone with too much information.See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Swallow, and Savor!
See: Just Look at the wine. What does the color tell you, and why do we care? Besides the obvious (it’s red, white, or rose’) the color can give you a few indicators of the wine. Holding the glass against a white backdrop helps to see the color more easily. Is it really dark, or is it easy to see through (Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir?)? If the wine was fermented in the skins (as most reds are), the color from the skin imparts color and flavor into the wine. Certain wines are naturally darker than others. For example, you can let the crushed grapes of Grenache or Pinot Noir sit in the skins for 3 weeks and it won’t impart much color while Malbec and Petite Verdot has the opposite effect: 3 days and the juice looks like ink. Does it have a brownish or brickish hue or is it a bright magenta-like color? This is an indicator of possible age or quality. A brownish edge means it may be an older wine, while magenta or bright purple exhibits youth.
How about those legs (what?)? These are the little rivulets that form when you swirl the glass and let the wine settle back down into the glass. Some say this gives you an indication of the thickness (or viscosity), or sweetness of the wine….a generally accepted rule is the closer the legs( or rivulets) form together the higher in alcohol the wine content. It could also mean your glass is dirty or has residue, so don’t put too much meaning into this.
How about oak? The newer the oak, the more color it helps the wine to retain. Or in a white wine it can actually give the wine a straw-like hue. Typically (but not always) you will find this color in a richer, more full-bodied white wine. If a white wine has less of a straw-like color chances are it is unoaked and is going to be brighter in flavor as oak subdues some of the acidity (more about that later).
With red wines, oak doesn’t impart a ton of color but it does help to lock in the color that is already there. Wines that easily lose their color (Barbera) benefit from aging in new oak. Oak-aging also allows for “controlled oxidation” to take place, which mellows out some of the harshness of red wines. With oxidation and/or age wine tends to inherit that brick-like color. And typically rose’-style wines are bright and crisp as they aren’t barrel-aged….unless you work at Harbinger Winery. We like the visual, aromatic, and palatial effects that a small amount of barrel-aging imparts on our rose’.
Are you thirsty yet? This is a good time to open your favorite bottle of wine (preferably Harbinger) and see it through your new eyes!
Stay Posted: Be on the lookout of what to do next…Swirl!!!