Tasting wine entails the use of our eyes, nose and taste buds. We have talked about educating the sense of smell. Now comes our sight. The first part of the tasting process is visual. We can learn a lot from looking at our glass of wine. We can start guessing the wine’s grape variety, region, vintage and winemaking process. The visual part is very important for blind tasting. For those of us that enjoy detective work, blind tasting can make drinking wine a lot more fun and it poses an interesting challenge. Looking at the glass of wine we can first tell if the wine is light bodied or full bodied. This applies for both, white and red wine. With this observation we can start to discard grape varieties that would not fit the visual description and keep possible choices in mind.
To properly look at a glass of wine, the glass should be placed in a 45 degree angle, away from you and placed in front of a white piece of paper in order to better see color and translucency. Lighter bodied wines are translucent. This clue tells us if the wine comes from a colder region or hotter region. Colder region grapes tend to have less time to ripen in the vine and as a result produce lighter bodied wines. Grapes grown in hotter regions ripen more and as a result produce stronger bodied wines that are less translucent. So, by now, if the wine looks light bodied and is translucent, we can start making a mental list of grapes that are from cold regions and have thin skin. Then comes color. Red wine fades in color as wine ages. The opposite happens to white wine, which gains color as it ages. A very pale yellow wine with green tones with light body or a translucent purplish red wine with light body, both could be young wines made with grapes from a cold region. The rim size and color can also tell us age, a light color, broad rim could mean the wine is young. Finally comes viscosity which has to do with body. Swirl the glass very lightly and see if it forms legs, in Spanish they are called “lagrimas” or tears.
Some Red wine grapes that are light bodied: Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Valpolicella. White wines that are light bodied: Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino. I recommend buying the wine folly color mat at winefolly.com I use it quite often and it helps me a lot to become better at blind tasting.