Tasting Wine with Your Eyes

The Eyes Have It! Laser Focus Wine Sight

As someone that has led thousands of tastings, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people close their eyes as they taste wine, expecting that it will heighten the sense of taste. Let me propose that you open your eyes and give the wine a good look. Understanding the wine’s primary color is the first step towards understanding the aromas and flavors. I use these cues and clues as a detective would solve a puzzle. Let’s get started on my three basic white concepts and three basic red concepts.

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Pale Straw: This is a wine that you can see through; it has lots of silver and green tones. The wine should be fresh, bright, clean, and have lots of energy.

Flavors: Greenish flavors—green apple, lemon, and lime, with some herbal and mineral notes.

Wines: Mosel Riesling, Muscadet, SancerreVinho Verde, Lighter Grüner Veltliner

Pale Straw White Wine

Pale Straw White Wine

Pale Yellow: This a wine with a slight advance in color. The pale yellow color tells me that the wine is richer than Pale Straw in the medium-bodied camp.

Flavors: Yellowish flavors—yellow apple, lemon, pineapple, and peach, with some floral and herbal notes.

Wines: Chablis, Unoaked Chardonnay’s, California Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño

Medium Yellow White

Medium Yellow White

Yellow Gold: The yellow straw color indicates some evolution moving the fruits into the yellow, oaked, oxidative zone. The color tells me to look for a slightly fuller white wine with a richer mouthfeel.

Flavors: ripe/baked apple/pear, ripe lemon, tangerine, tropical fruits, honeysuckle, with touches of oak notes such as vanilla and baking spices. 

Wines: Oaked Chardonnay, Alsace Pinot Gris, Viognier 

Yellow Gold White

Yellow Gold White

Pale Ruby: This color indicates a lighter-skinned red variety from a cooler climate. A bright and transparent rim shows a youthful wine with loads of freshness.

Flavors: Tart and fresh fruits such as raspberry, cherry, cranberry, and possibly red flowers. Probably no oak flavors here. 

Wines: Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Rioja Crianza

Ruby Red

Ruby Red Wine

Deep Purple: This color shows a wine of high pigmentation and extraction. A dark, nearly opaque rim shows the wine’s youth and power. The wine should be full-bodied with mouth-filling tannins. 

Flavors: Ripe, jammy black fruits such as blueberry, blackberry, plum, and purple flowers. Look for possible baking spices such as vanilla, chocolate, and nutmeg from oak aging.

Wines: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec 

Deep Purple Red

Deep Purple Red

Ruby Garnet: Garnet indicates a wine evolving with the fruit changing into dried fruits, dried flowers, tobacco, leather, and citrus peel. The brickish-orangish color at the rim shows a wine that has spent 5-10 years in the bottle. Garnet indicates a wine evolving with the fruit changing into dried fruits, dried flowers, tobacco, leather, and citrus peel.

Flavors: Dried berry fruits, dried flowers, leather, and tobacco,

Wines: Barolo & Barbaresco, Rioja Gran Reserva, Aged Red Burgundy, Aged Brunello di Montalcino

Deep Ruby Garnet

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