WINE TASTING CYPRUS
WINE TASTING CYPRUS
The Guide to Wine Tasting in Cyprus (Part 2)
Learn how to Choose the Right Wine Glass & Scrutinise your Wine with George Kassianos
Wine Tasting Cyprus – The Art of Wine Tasting is a lot more involved than one might think. To fully appreciate a fine wine, Sommeliers advise that you observe the colour, swirl it around in your glass and smell it, before tasting and enjoying. This process helps us to fully appreciate all aspects of the wine so that we can make an informed opinion as to its quality, and ultimately decide if we like it, or not!
In Part 1 of The Guide to Wine Tasting by George Kassianos, George asks the direct question: Do you observe the wine to understand its contents, or are you more of a ‘like it or not’ wine drinker? He goes on to discuss the process of Wine Tasting for beginners and the benefits of each stage. In this article, Part 2, George takes us through the different types of wine glasses and how to choose the right wine glass for the wine you are tasting. He also discusses the importance of closely scrutinising the wine and observing it.
Observing wine is a skill which often gets overlooked, due to our zealousness to devour the wine at hand. From a simple visual examination of the wine in our glass, we can learn an awful lot about it.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST WINE GLASS FOR WINE TASTING
Your choice of wine glass, is, of course, always up to you. If you are looking to appreciate wines using the ‘correct’ wine glass, there are a few rules which should be adhered to. Also, it is good to understand precisely why these traditional glass shapes are needed. There are different types of wine glasses, which have been designed explicitly for drinking red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified wines. If we follow the rules when selecting the variant of glass to use, it can improve our wine tasting experience.
- RED WINE GLASS
Best Glass for Red Wine – Red wine is traditionally served in a larger glass, and there are several reasons for this. If you have a broader bowl with a wider opening at the top, this allows the wine to breathe and, in turn, enables the wine to benefit from its first contact with air helping to open up and display more aromas and bolster tasting notes. For medium-bodied, slightly lower in alcohol wines, a smaller glass will soften spicy flavours, but allow fewer ethanol vapours to escape. The Burgundy glass is an accompaniment to many lighter, but complex lower alcohol reds.
- WHITE WINE GLASS
Best Glass for White Wine – A white wine glass will always be smaller than a red one and should have a narrower bowl and opening. A white wine glass allows the wine to be preserved at the correct cooler temperature and helps retain the aromas. The bowl of the slightly larger white glass embraces and enunciates the richer, rounder aspects of a full-bodied, white wine.
- SPARKLING WINE OR CHAMPAGNE FLUTE
Best Glass for Champagne – For Champagne or Sparkling Wines in general, a flute glass is, of course, highly recommended. The flute is not just selected for the way it looks but also for being the best glass shape to maintain the bubbles in the glass. Becoming more popular, by the day though, is any glass with a wide enough bowl, to allow your nose into the glass, to inhale all those beautiful aromas.
- STEMLESS WINE GLASS
Whilst there is a fashion for stemless wine glasses at the moment, it is good to know that although they do not affect the taste of the wine, one should bear in mind that, without a stem, you have to hold the bowl of the glass, which can dramatically affect the temperature of the wine.
LOOK AT THE GLASS BEFORE TASTING THE WINE
In sensory wine analysis, we mainly use the three senses of Sight, Smell and Taste. By looking at the glass, you immediately get a clear impression. Sight is a sense that is also dynamic and, above all, accurate when compared to Smell and Taste. All too quickly, a glass of wine is poured, and drunk, without taking the time to look at it and learn.
It is essential that once your wine has been poured into the glass, you sit back and observe it. It does not take much time, or effort, and will give you an objective opinion on the wine’s general appearance. The visual examination of wine will provide you with indicators of age, acidity, density of flavour and, of course, the grape variety. Here’s what to look out for when observing your favourite wine:
WINE CLARITY & BRIGHTNESS
The first thing you will notice is, if there are any suspended particles or cosmetic defects, such as pieces of cork. As a wine drinker, we hope our wine appears clear, instead of dull. However, a slight dullness or haze is not a significant problem. Most quality wines go through at least one, if not more processes, after fermentation, to make sure there are no tiny particles visible to the eye. These processes include stabilisation, fining and wine filtration.
However, nowadays, many wine producers try to minimise their winemaking procedures to protect the integrity and natural character of the wine. Today, winemakers treat their wines more gently, aiming at reducing the processes, especially when dealing with fine wines. Wines lacking brightness will also have low acidity and, as a consequence, can sometimes be insipid. Most white and rosé wines tend to be bright, due to their higher acidity.
THE VISCOSITY (LEGS) OF THE WINE
The type of grape, and method of winemaking, dictates whether a wine is more or less fluid. If a wine is fermented in oak, it makes the wine richer in glycerol, with a denser mixture called glyceric texture. If you swirl the wine glass and observe the movement, you will notice the tears, or legs, left on the inside of the glass. This is called the viscosity of the wine. The droplets, which form above the surface of the wine in the glass, also indicate the alcohol content. If they are slow to roll down the glass, this means the wine has higher alcohol content. This is caused by the interplay between adhesion, evaporation and surface tension of water and alcohol.
THE BUBBLES IN SPARKLING WINE
Once a sparkling wine is poured into the glass, we should always observe the bubbles. They are caused by the carbonic gas, which is present in the wine. The more bubbles there are and the more regular their release, going upwards in a straight line and forming a crown or accumulation on the rim of the glass, the better the elaboration and ageing. However, the presence of these bubbles in still wine is usually bad news. The exception to this rule is in some young white and rosé wines, where a carbonic trace (needle) is intentionally added to stress the freshness.
THE COLOUR OF THE WINE
The grape variety, winemaking techniques and ageing can determine the wine’s colour. Colour is very important to consider in wine tasting, but what clues can we get from observing it? Over time, red wine becomes lighter, white wine becomes darker, and rosé wine becomes spoiled. The anthocyanins, tannins and polyphenols are responsible for the colour changes.
WHITE WINE COLOUR – When we look at a young white, we notice a bright pale yellow colour with a golden iridescence and greening highlights. This is because of the acidity. The older they get, the more they develop into an intense golden yellow, gold or even amber in shades. If they have had contact with wood, during fermentation, or aged in oak barrels, this will create a golden white wine.
ROSÉ WINE COLOUR – A young rosé wine will have a luminous, bright and lively rosé colour. As they age, they develop salmon shades with an orange hue.
RED WINE COLOUR – Red wine should be bright and lively. An intense garnet or cherry colour will indicate a young red. As red wine ages, it shows warmer hues, a ruby colour with orange shades, and even a brown rim.
The intensity is not an indication of the quality of the wine but provides us with information about the structure. Colour and tannin always go hand in hand. A strong, deep colour will almost certainly mean the wine is full in body and rich in tannins. As you can see, the colour is one of wine’s most fascinating qualities. Take the time to observe the colour and allow yourself to be enthralled by the visual phase when enjoying a glass of your favourite wine!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Kassianos is the President of the Cyprus Sommeliers Association. He has also recently been appointed the Contest and General Assembly Liaison Officer by the International Sommeliers Association (ASI), which will take him all over the world to attend international wine events and competitions. He writes for many publications, including Cyprus in Style Magazine and the weekly wine column of the Sunday Cyprus Mail. He is a wine and hotel educator and presenter, and holds regular wine events across Cyprus. He was appointed by the Government to be a member of the Wine Expert Committee, which certifies PDO wines and acts as an advisory board to the wine and spirits industry. Read an Exclusive Interview with George Kassianos and learn more about George and wine tasting in Cyprus.
BOOK YOUR SPACE ON A 6-WEEK WINE COURSE WITH GEORGE
Learn about Cypriot wine with George Kassianos in a 6-Week Wine Course starting soon. Numbers are very limited. For further information, send a message to us and quote ‘Cyprus in Style Wine Course’.
Now we have learnt how to look at a wine, we have one more important step to consider, before moving onto the tasting. In the forthcoming Part 3 of ‘The Guide to Wine Tasting in Cyprus by George Kassianos’, we learn how we can fully appreciate the aromas of wine. George will explain how to smell the wine and prepare for the taste. This is actually a very important part of the wine tasting process, as, by smelling the wine, we send a signal to our brain to prepare our mouths for the taste. Part 3 – Coming soon.
Published by Cyprus in Style Magazine March 2020 | #InStyleBusinessNetwork | Wine Tasting Cyprus
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