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The essence of the five senses: Part 2

“This wine looks amazing!”

To discover the greatness of a wine, there is a need to study it before a sip. This allows you to discover the clarity, the colour and the viscosity of the content.

First, take a look at the wine in your glass; you can learn so much from a brief visual examination.

The colour of the wine will give you an indication of its age and maybe of the climate from where the grapes were cultivated. The darker the colour, the warmer the climate.

Now give a look through the side of the glass and you will be able to judge its clarity, by noticing if your wine is cloudy or clean, or if it contains small particles, like tartrate crystals left over from the wine making process or sometimes even parts of the cork.

Many people think these clear crystals in the wine or stuck to the cork are salt, sugar, sediment or even broken glass. In fact they are harmless by-products of wine, and some equate their presence as a mark of quality, in that the wine has not been overly manipulated in the cellar.When exposed to cold temperatures, the tartaric acid naturally found in grapes binds with potassium to form a compound called potassium bitartrate. Many white wines often undergo a cold stabilization process to remove these tartrates before bottling, but often some are left, ready to crystallise in your cold cellar or fridge. If until now you were thinking that these crystals are a wine's default, maybe now it's the time to rethink.

After having made sure that your wine is clear and clean, give your glass a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. White wines range from almost colourless to golden yellow, depending on the ageing, the wine-making technique and the variety of the grapes. The very young fresh white wines, often have some greenish nuances and the ones which have been aged, they tend to look golden yellow. Very few white wines are made with the purpose to last for more than a couple of years. Old white wines lose their sheen and become increasingly more dull over time. Because of light-sensitivity, white wines will become more orange over time.

Rosé wines obtain their colour before the fermentation, during the maceration process, where the skins of the grapes co-exist with the juice of the grapes just for a few hours. That's because the pigmentation substances of a grape berry, are found on their skins, so the more contact with the skins, the more colour the juice gets. This is the reason why there are many different types of rosé wines. The colour can be pale salmon, pale pink, up to intense and dark pink. It is interesting to mention that the maceration process plays an important role not only on the colour but also on the intensity of taste. Usually, the darker the colour, more flavour there is! But this is another topic!

Last but not least, red wines! Light-bodied red wines tend to have a lighter and more translucent colour (this means that you’ll be able to see through them). Hues range from a bright purple to garnet. Medium-bodied red wines tend to medium-rich colours. Full-bodied red wines are often deeply coloured and this indicates a possible presence of higher tannin. These wines are highly extracted and opaque. When a red wine is far past its prime it will be of a dull brown colour.

The viscosity of the wine can give you an idea of its alcohol content and its “body”. Give your glass a swirl—as the wine drips down the sides of the glass it will leave behind “legs” or “tears”. This is most notable in a high alcohol wine or in fortified wines. The slower the wine flows down the side of the glass and the thicker the “legs” are, the more viscous the wine is, meaning the alcohol content is high enough. From the viscosity, someone can estimate the body or the volume of the wine but about texture and the volume we will talk later!

Check the table below to find the colour of your wine!

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