The wineglass should not be overfilled, since
it is best to tilt the glass to an approximate 45-degree
angle over the background. Tilting the glass affords the
best way to examine the edge, or disc of the wine in contrast
to the body, or robe of the wine.
Some general assumptions that one can
make when looking at wine:
For White Wine
White wines grow darker and often take on a more caramel
color as they age. Prematurely aged or oxidized wines are
often brown and dull in appearance due to the action of
oxygen on the wine.
White wines that have a more golden hue and still remain
bright are likely to be fuller-bodied and have likely been
aged in oak or “on the lees.”
White wines that have a more pronounced green tint were
probably made with grapes picked before they were fully
ripe. While not a flaw, green tinted white wines may have
more acidity and more tartness on the palate. Stylistically,
this may be the desired or natural outcome for certain wines.
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For Red Wines
Red wines that are brightly colored with more red pigments
(as opposed to blue pigments) are apt to be higher in natural
acidity. The converse: red wines that are less brightly
colored with more blue pigments, generally means that a
wine will have less acidity.
Red wines fade as they age. While this is a perfectly
natural part of the aging process, younger wines that appear
prematurely faded, may be flawed or damaged, or at the very
least extremely oxidative.
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For All Wines
It is acceptable for certain wines to throw a sediment.
Full-bodied, unfiltered red wines will almost always develop
a natural sediment due to aging. Full-bodied fortified wines,
like Port, which are not filtered and bottled without the
benefit of extended cask aging, are also expected to develop
a natural sediment. In the case of wines that have a high
probability of developing sediment, care in handling during
transport from cellar to table, as well as care during the
decanting process is essential. When visually inspecting
a glass of older wine, especially in a restaurant setting,
be mindful to watch for unwanted sediment floating in the
wine. Perhaps the bottle was mishandled during transport,
or perhaps the bottle was not decanted properly, or not
decanted at all. In a word, though, sediment is NOT something
anyone wants to taste. It does not mark a flaw, but could
call into question the wine service at a particular restaurant,
Be careful not to confuse the aforementioned sediment
with a crystalline deposit that can sometimes develop (especially
on the end of the cork) as a result of tartrates precipitating
out of solution. Typically these tartrates are harmless
and have little bearing on quality. Unlike other forms of
sediment, tartrates tend to adhere to the cork, which often
limits their presence in suspension.
General cloudiness can be an indicator of flaws, or possibly
just poorly made wine. Still table wine should always be
clear and generally bright.
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2: Smell >