When was the last time you discussed the appearance of your glass of wine with someone? Almost everyone, including myself, usually discusses the smell and the taste of wine. Very seldom is the color or appearance spoken of.
The fact that we seldom discuss a wine’s appearance is a mistake. A wine’s appearance can tell us a lot…such as a wine’s age, alcohol level, texture and perhaps even the grape variety.
The first thing you should try to define is a wine’s color or hue (hue means both a color and a shade of color). What is the color’s intensity and its clarity? Wine Spectator magazine (a magazine every wine drinker should subscribe to) provides “The Palate of Colors” as follows:
- Red Wines: peony, light ruby, dark ruby, vermilion, garnet, carmine and deep purple. When aged, brick red, russet, chestnut, coffee and mahogany.
- Rosés: pale gray, very light rose, pink, raspberry, carnation, strawberry, cherry and salmon pink. When older they become salmon orange, brick, copper and onion skin.
- White Wines: pale yellow with a hint of green, pale yellow, lemon, pale gold, golden yellow, straw-gold, bronze, copper, amber, mahogany and coffee.
When inspecting the appearance of your glass of wine it is important to have a white or very light surface to hold the wine in front of. This allows you to see the wine’s color, intensity and clarity closely. Young red wines are often a bright berry red or a shade of purple.
As red wine ages the color changes from deep red or dark purple to more of a brick color or garnet and eventually the wine will take on a brownish tinge. To double check this change, tip the glass and look at the color on the edge of the wine where it touches the glass. The outer edge will be a different, more brown color as the wine ages.
White wines, as they age, will turn to a much deeper shade of gold. These darker shades of white wine color, such as a lemony shade, shades of straw or a rice golden color suggest they are fully aged.
Another important color change is when a red wine goes to a brick or brown color and a white goes to an amber shade. This is a sign of oxidization which will tell you the wine is aged and getting toward the end of its drinking stage, or it is a mature wine which could be quite tasty.
What all of this means:
- Brighter colored wines tend to be more light-bodied and somewhat acidic.
- Darker colored wines tend to be fuller-bodied and have less acidity and higher alcohol levels.
Legs or Tears
The streaks of wine that form and run down the side of your glass after swirling your wine are called legs or tears. You want to look at the legs to see how big they are and how quickly they run down the glass.
The thinner, quickly moving legs will speak to a light- to medium-bodied wine with a lower alcohol level and no residual sugars. Legs that move slowly down the glass and are thicker, and perhaps tinted in color, indicate a full-bodied red wine and that possibly has a much higher alcohol level.
The wines I produce, especially my reds, tend to be deep red in color (even my Pinot Noir is darker than normal) have big, thick legs (an indication they have higher alcohol levels) and are big full-bodied wines.
The next time you have a glass of wine be sure and check its appearance, depth of color and the type of legs it has. These items will certainly give you an indication of the condition of the wine you are about to taste.
As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics, please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Upcoming Wine Events For 2021
8/13/21 August Wine Dinner featuring music by Jesse’s Gurl
9/10/21 September Wine Dinner featuring music by Julia James
9/24/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
10/5/21 Oktoberfest Dinner with Iechyd Da Brewing Co. with music by Patti Lightfoot
10/22/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event
11/5/21 November Wine Dinner featuring music by Checkmark Sallie
11/19/21 Wine Talk & Taste Event