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Eyes

Play detective with the colour of wine: a light red wine that is almost transparent is made with a grape variety that does not colour the juice very much, such as Pinot Noir grown in Alsace. At the other end of the scale, a deep, dark, almost black wine will evoke a very ripe variety that colours a lot, such as Merlot from Bordeaux. A salmon-coloured rosé will evoke a pressed rosé, close to a white wine, such as a Côtes de Provence, whereas a deeper rosé bordering on ruby will be reminiscent of Tavel or a Sancerre rosé, wines that are bled and thus more powerful. The same applies to white wines. An almost colourless white will guide you towards a young wine that was vinified in a vat, possibly a white variety such as Sauvignon Blanc. At the other end of the scale, a wine that is gold or as yellow as straw will lead you towards wines matured in the barrel, with a few years of cellaring. You will subsequently double check with your nose. Tinges are another aspect of a wine’s colour. They reveal its age. A very young red will have purplish, almost blue, tinges. The best example is Beaujolais Primeur. A dark colour with garnet-coloured or brown or even vermilion tinges reveals a wine in the throes of aging. Will it be sufficiently intense on the palate? Let your taste buds do the talking... Limpidity now. Hold the glass up to a source of light, preferably against a black background, and try to see what might be dancing in the glass. Anything? Nothing? That’s good news: the wine is limpid. Cloudy wine would lack finesse on the palate. And how about sheen? Sheen, seen against a white background, reveals how the wine shines and may give an indication of its acidity level. Just like there are gorgeous diamonds and less beautiful diamonds, there are wines with more or less sheen. Viscosity is an indicator of a wine’s sugar content or unctuousness. Look at the traces that linger on the sides of the glass after you have swirled it. An oily film seems to linger on the glass (called tears of wine, or legs) indicating a high percentage of alcohol – for example in the case of Mediterranean red. If there are no legs, you may be looking at a wine from the Loire, for example. For whites, viscosity combined with a deep golden colour puts you on the track of a syrupy wine.

BIVB / MUZARD J.P.Dégustation de vin blanc, examen visuel © BIVB / MUZARD J.P.

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