From Bordeaux to Bridgend

We’re very excited to announce our first wine tasting event at Nolton Corner…NC Wine Tasting

Tickets are limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

Get in touch to reserve one!

In the meantime, here are a few wine based definitions and tips to get everyone in the mood…

A Selection of ‘Most Frequently Used Wine Terms’

Acid

Used as an adjective to describe sharp or sour flavours. Acidity is a vital component of wine: it helps red wines keep their colour and gives white wines their balance. Too much acidity, and a wine is tart and unpleasant; too little and the wine is ‘flabby’ and uninteresting. Grapes start out with high concentrations of organic acids which then disappear as the they ripen.

Aroma

The smell of a wine. These smells may come from the grape (primary aroma) from fermentation (secondary aroma) or they may even develop during wine maturing or ageing (tertiary aroma) Fussy wine pros sometimes distinguish between aroma (the smell of young wines) and bouquet (more complex whiffs that come from bottle age).

Corked

If instead of clean, fruity aromas… a wine smells of mouldy cellars and damp cardboard, then your wine is corked. Contrary to popular opinion a corked wine is not one that has bits of cork floating in it (this is totally harmless, fish the bits out and the wine will be fine); instead, it is a wine that has been contaminated by a chemical called trichloroanisole (TCA). The human nose is extremely sensitive to this contaminant.

Body

A tasting term describing the weight of the wine in the mouth. A full bodied wine will have good concentration, lots of alcohol and plenty of extract (density); a light bodied wine won’t. The full bodied wines tend to get all the attention in big tasting events and competitions, even if they aren’t the sort of wines you’d necessarily want to spend an evening with.

Fruity

Technically, grapes are a fruit. It should come as no surprise therefore, that some wines are described as fruity. Modern winemaking techniques help bring out the fruit character in wines that previously would have been much less attractive.

Fortified

Port & sherry are the two most famous fortified wines. With Port, grapes are crushed and allowed to ferment a bit, and then spirit is added to produce a sweet, alcoholic wine. With sherry, fermentation is completed and then spirit is added.

Finish

A much-abused tasting term. It refers to the flavours left in the mouth after you have swallowed or spat out a mouthful of wine. For example, a finish can be alcoholic, bitter, hot, dry, acidic, short or long.

Magnum

(1. A gun. 2. A type of ice cream.) 3. And most importantly… a big bottle that holds 1.5 litres of wine, equivalent to two full bottles. Rather fun, and wine in magnums is supposed to age better than in standard 75 cl bottles.

Reserve

There is no formal definition of what makes a ‘reserve’ wine: producers usually use this to indicate a wine that is made from selected grapes or has been given lavish oak treatment, implying that it is of a higher standard. Producers would often “reserve” their best wines rather than sell them straight away – thus coining the term.

Some recommendations on ‘How to taste a wine’

The purpose of tasting a wine is to analyse it with the intention of valuing as much as possible. This is irrefutably subjective, depending on the individual and indeed the wine. However, there are some basic guidelines…
Main factors analysed during wine tasting are sensations corresponding to the senses of sight, smell and taste. In that order.

Wine tasting starts with a visual analysis as the appearance can yield a lot of information about it.
The colour of a wine may give a clue not only to the age of the wine, however, but also to the grape varieties which have been used. With age, initially the signs can be seen at the rim of the wine. Generally, red wines will lighten and white wines deepen.

Swirl the glass to throw the wine up onto the side of the glass, thus increasing the surface area of wine in contact with the air. It is at the interface between wine and air that aromas are released, and thus increasing the surface area helps to make the aromas more apparent.

It is very important to have a good sniff in order to assess the aromas. Young wines will have primary aromas, relating to the grape variety. Such smells are often fruit related and hence many wines are described as having a nose of blackcurrants or raspberries (or simply ‘fruity’). As wines age more secondary aromas develop, these may be more earthy or animalistic. Very rarely does a wine actually smell of grapes, this is because the grapes most of us are familiar with are table or dessert grapes, which are quite unsuitable for wine making.

When you come to taste the wine, it is important to realise that little of the flavour that can be sensed actually involves the tongue. Much more vital are the nasal chemoreceptors that are involved in smell. Aromas from the wine in the mouth pervade the upper airways, and it is sensations from the nasal receptors that we use to ‘taste’ the wine. (This is why it is difficult to taste foods when you have a cold). So breathe in and out through the nose as you taste, and if you feel like it, slurp some air in through the mouth over the wine. It will help to release the aromas, and probably raise a few laughs!

Pay attention to the way the wine changes as you hold it in the mouth. First impressions on taking the wine into the mouth may be referred to as the forepalate, followed by the mid and endpalate, leading up to the finish.
The finish describes the sensations derived from swallowing the wine. It will often be different to how the wine came across on the palate, so take note. The flavours may linger for a while on the palate after the wine has been swallowed, and this is referred to as the length. The more length a wine has, the more time you have to enjoy it, and it’s probably true to say that such wines are generally of better quality.

Lastly comes the decision; spit or swallow. Even when spitting, some alcohol is absorbed via the membranes of the mouth, and some via the small part that is inevitably swallowed.

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