The 1st “S” of Wine Tasting: Sight

The first “S” in the 5 S’s of wine tasting is sight. For fledgling winos sight can seem like its not the most important S but it has its benefits. A lot can be said from looking at a glass of wine but for the most part, sight comes in handy for knowing whether you have bits of cork floating around in your wine. The color and viscosity (refers to a wine’s liquid consistency) of the wine can give you an impression of what will come later when you taste it. For the wine masters and sommeliers, the color of the wine can not only tell whether it is a green or red grape, but how old it is, what varietal it is, what region in the world it came from, and sometimes even how much it costs. I know, don’t worry; I’m not anywhere near there either. I’ll just give a basic idea, in basic terms, why color is important.

The color of the wine can tell you if the wine is young and robust, or old and subtle. If the color of the wine extends all the way to the edge of the liquid then it is a young wine, so you can expect something bold on your tongue. If the edge of the wine is clear and watery, you’ll know it will not be so pronounced in your mouth, maybe even tasting flabby or weak.

You know when you swirl a wine and it has “legs” slowly sliding down the side of the glass? If you don’t know then grab a bottle of wine and give it a try, if anything else it’ll be another excuse to open a bottle of wine. What makes the legs stick to the side of the glass is the residual sugar in the wine. This is what makes the wine sweet. Now remember, this is important, fruity and sweet are NOT the same things. Residual sugar is the sugar left over from fermentation that was not turned into alcohol. You’ll notice that white wines usually have higher residual sugar content then reds, especially whites like Riesling. So now, after looking at the wine for a few moments, you’ll have an idea of whether the wine is young and robust or not or if it is going to be sweet. Sight may not be the most important “S” in my opinion but part of the experience in wine comes from what you expect the wine to taste like.

Ryan Evans

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