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Four ways to size up a wine before tasting a drop

by , 20 November 2014

If you're attending a wine tasting or just want to get into the wine connoisseur spirit, before you even smell or taste a wine, you need to give it the once over.

Yes, I'm talking about LOOKING at it. And when you do, there are four key things you should look for when evaluating a wine.

Read on to find out what these are…


Here’s how to gauge a wine with your eyes


You can tell a lot about a wine from giving it a thorough examination before you let your nose and mouth try it.

Start, by filling your glass a third full. Then use these four steps to evaluate it.


Step 1 to evaluating wine visually: Look straight down into your wine glass


Look straight down into your glass.

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What you’re doing here is checking out the wine’s colour range. By looking at the depth of the wine’s colour, you get an idea of the density of the wine, Paul Gregutt in Wine Mag explains.

Once you become more experienced, you’ll be able to identify certain grape varieties by their colour.


Step 2 to evaluating wine visually: Look at the wine from the side


Look through the wine with light coming in from the side and you’ll see how clear it is.

If the wine is cloudy it could indicate an issue with fermentation. Or it could be the wine is unfiltered and your glass contains sediment.

If your wine is brilliant and clear, with a hint of a sparkle, it’s a great sign.


Step 3 to evaluating wine visually: Tilt your wine glass


You want to tilt your glass enough that the wine thins out towards the edge of the glass. This tells you a lot about the age of a wine and its weight.

If the colour peters out a lot at the edges, it could suggest it’s a bland wine.

With white wines if the colour is brownish or orange for a red wine, it tells you the wine is older. Or it could suggest a wine that’s past its best.


Step 4 to evaluating wine visually: The swirl


Gently swirl your wine glass. Do this gently to avoid any impromptu sloshing.

What you want to pay attention to here is if the wine forms legs when it runs down the glass.

If you notice good legs, it usually indicates a higher alcohol content. This tells you that the wine is riper and denser than a wine that doesn’t form good legs.

So there you have it. Four ways to size up a wine before tasting a drop.

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