Sustainable Wines to Pack in Your Beach Bag This Summer
Aug 01, 2022
It all starts with that first taste
Tips & Tricks / Aug 3
A critical first step in the tasting of any wine is to inspect its color. Don’t even think about bringing the glass to your nose or lips without taking note of its shade, intensity of color, and sediment. Subtle differences in color can tell you a myriad of things, from the age of the wine to its sugar content and even its place of origin—and this is as true of white wines as it is of reds.
While whites might appear to be the most homogenous of all wines, the category encompasses a sea of different styles and grape varieties. Does your white appear a little green? You might be drinking Sauvignon Blanc. Is the juice deep gold? There’s a chance you’re drinking a sweet wine like a Sauternes or Jurançon. Here’s what to look for before you take your first sip.
To inspect your white like a pro, pour a little bit of wine into a glass (to let the light through more evenly), tip your glass forward against a white background like a napkin or tablecloth, and observe its color. Notice the subtleties of what’s in your glass, including the sediment levels and the intensity of the color. Try to put a name to its exact shade—this will help you refine your ability to recall similar wines.
The more saturated a wine’s color, the more likely its taste will be rich and intense. Rieslings are usually quite pale, with airy and delicate flavors, while oaky Chardonnays are often deep yellow, with notes of vanilla and butterscotch and a creamy, buttery taste.
Generally speaking, the longer a wine is aged in the barrel or in the bottle, the deeper its shade will be. This is because these vessels let in small amounts of oxygen, which in turn concentrates the color (think about what happens to the flesh of cut fruit when you leave it out on your counter).
Another factor that can influence the wine’s color is the grape variety. Pale yellow wines, which can sometimes even look green, are usually young wines from delicate grapes (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc) not aged in oak. Their flavor profile tends to be crisp and fresh, with primary notes of citrus or fresh fruits and flowers. Wines that are golden-yellow typically indicate varieties like Chardonnay and Marsanne that are sometimes aged in oak, while a deep-golden or tawny wine might point to varieties like Sémillon and Rolle, which play a leading role in many of the world’s best sweet wines. The noble rot (Botrytis fungus) that characterizes many of these wines not only concentrates the sugars in the grape, but also leads to a wine that's more intensely colored.
Pale Yellow Wines
Deep Gold Wines:
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