Loving the wine


Loving the wine
My wine story continues.
I will start now with the visual analysis of the wine. That allows us to understand how the vinification and storage occurred, the age of the wine and the alcohol content. Through the visual examination, which is the taster’s first approach to wine, one has the opportunity to study its colour, brilliance and intensity. In the wine inspection, it is necessary to tilt the glass and put something plain (a sheet of paper or an object) beneath it. The visual analysis changes depending on the type of wine. By leaning the glass more, looking at the heart of the wine – its core -, you can catch the intensity of the colour. While looking at the top surface, you can notice its nuances. By slowly spinning the wine in the bowl, tears or arches form, helping us understand the wine structure and density. Clearness is not a sign of quality wine. Some wines have little clarity but high quality; others have much clarity but little quality. Connected with clearness is transparency. If a wine is rich in colouring matter, it will be less transparent, while a less rich wine will be more transparent. For example, it is hard to catch the clarity in Port, which is, by its type, intense in colour.

To overcome problems with the clarity of the wine, we can filter it before bottling. Some producers do not proceed with filtration intentionally, ignoring the clarity and preferring to leave the wine as vinified initially. Some wines are naturally shiny since they are free of suspended particles, and others are bright. The latter are those containing carbon dioxide (Co2). The bubbles refract the light rays through the colouring substance making the wine brilliant.

Wine takes its colour from the grape skin and partly from the grape seeds.

The more the must remains in contact with the skins and the pips, the more the wine takes on colour.

In white vinification, there is an immediate separation of the solid part of the must from the liquid. When we vinify red grapes with white ones, the result is white wine. An example is Pinot Noir which we can vinify in white (Blanc de Noir). The secret is to ensure that the wort does not mix with the skins and pips, even during the grape compression phase, since the more they press the grapes, the more colour we obtain.

They produce the vinification in red to obtain, through the black berried grapes, both rosé wines with partial maceration and red wines with fermentation in contact with the skins and the pips.

We can even obtain rosé wines with white berried grapes such as Pinot Grigio grapes.

The colour, a longer fermentation, the temperature, the number of pump-overs and the quantity of sulphur dioxide are influential.

The visual examination is likewise significant because it helps us comprehend if the colour of the wine reflects the variety of the wine.

White wine may have a golden yellow colour with greenish reflections, the first in respect of the colouring matter, the second testifies to the freshness of the wine. For example, pure Sangiovese, about ten years old (depending on the vintage), will have a grainy red colour, confirming the grape variety, with a more or less orange edge, proof of its maturity.

It is essential to consider the concentration of colour and hues and their combination.

We can have an intense coloured wine thanks to good extraction, a weak harvest, old vines and a successful vinification.

The shades of colour help us understand the evolutionary state of the wine.

We find more or less greenish and grey shades in young white wines. Older wines go from golden yellow to brown tones of oxidized or maderized wines. Young red wines are purple coloured and orange in older wines.

The vivacity of the colour represents a set of indices. They include the suitable winemaking technique, the optimal state of the grapes employed and much more.

We can produce rosé wines in three different ways.

The first method uses grapes with little colouring matter, such as Grignolino. The second is when using white (Pinot Grigio) and black grapes or, in my opinion, even better when employing moderately pressed and macerated black grapes.

Rosé wines having an orange tone are synonymous with little freshness and, therefore, excessive evolution.

When the white wine has a yellow-green hue, it has more acidity than delicacy (glycerin and alcohol) because of the advanced harvest of the grapes or the clarification and filtration of the wine before bottling.

As time passes, the wine ages, but its greenish tone diminishes.

Straw-coloured white wine suggests acidity and softness are in good balance. That means that the grapes harvested have fine ripeness and a good ratio of acids and sugars.

Golden yellow wine is usually an indication of softness that exceeds acidity. However, it may also be the wood employed that gives the wine this colour. It is never positive when the softness (and therefore also the alcohol) exceeds the freshness because this results in an unbalanced wine. In my view, the freshness, meaning the salivation of the tongue, must overcome the alcohol, the burning we perceive in the middle of the tongue.

When white wine is amber-yellow, it has an excess of oxidation, and softness overwhelms the acidity.

I now turn to examine the pink colour.

They usually obtain light pink – almost as rose petals – wines with moderate pressure of the berries and vinification with limited contact of the juice of the must with the black berried grape skins.

On the other hand, when the wine has reflections reminiscent of onion skin or copper, we think of white berried grapes such as Pinot Grigio.

The pink of the griotine cherries, light-coloured cherries or salmon-pink ones, denotes a rosé wine and the degree of ripeness. Pink with yellow reflections or onion skin indicates the exhaustion of the wine and loss of freshness.

Moving on to red wines, the first to be analyzed is the colour of the very young wine, which has acidity and tannins that overwhelm the softness. Its colour is purple, reminiscent of the cardinal’s robe. We can also define it as a deep red with purple flickers.

Another shade is ruby red, always a young wine that visually seems to have acidity, tannins and softness balanced together. There must be gustatory confirmation since this assumption is purely speculative.

When the wine has a colour similar to the ruby stone, it is time to drink it.

The grainy red colour is typical of wines with medium ageing, and the acidity, tannicity and softness axis, in theory, should lean more on the latter.

We must hope that the taste does not confirm this assumption because if this were the case, the wine would not be well balanced since the freshness and tannin should always be greater than the softness, including the alcoholic mass in the latter.

The orange-red or brick red is typical of older wines. Generally, they have the softness dominating the tannins and acidity, still subject to gustatory verification. That is not a final rule, too. If a young wine has this colour, it has had problems with preservation.

Returning to the fluidity of wine, we need to bear in mind that the wine poured into the glass can produce dense arches when the ethanol exceeds the glycerol, indicating that it is more alcoholic. Meanwhile, they are wider whenever the glycerol exceeds the ethanol (less alcoholic).

The more slowly the wine descends, the more the softness exceeds the hardness. That is, the alcohol is well present.

On the other hand, if the wine is too amiable to drink, it suggests a lack of everything.

After all, there must be gustatory correspondence. There can be well-structured wines but not very balanced to the taste as there can be not that structured wines, but well balanced: wines having a freshness that dominates the alcoholic mass.

As far as sparkling wines are concerned, it is relevant to differentiate those with natural carbon dioxide (CO2) from artificial ones.

Natural carbon dioxide forms during the first fermentation, namely the alcoholic, when sugars turn into alcohol (classic and champenoise method). The latter is the one with artificial addition (chardonnay method).

Carbon dioxide is influential as it is a natural gas produced during alcoholic fermentation, while the artificial one is similar to what they add to soft drinks. The quality of the bubbles, especially in the gustatory phase, is quite different.

The bubble is substantial during the visual and gustative examination.

Obviously, for the visual inspection of the bubbles, there must be a suitable glass that allows perfect eyesight.

That analysis starts from their size (the finer, the better), the number: the more numerous they are, the better; finally, the persistence, that is, how long the bubbles continue to fizzle.

The perfect bubble is remarkably floaty, considerable and persistent. Subsequently, we study it under the gustatory aspect. Those suffering from gastric reflux are certainly intolerant to wines produced with the Charmant method since the bubbles are rather lively and aggressive in the stomach. We will analyze this characteristic in the gustatory examination.

 in the gustatory examination.

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