Know Your Wines

scents related to the varietal. Sometimes it can also be accented by the toasty, vegetal, hints of nuts, vanilla, or spicy scents caused by factors such as fermentation and oak and bottle aging. If the wine is older, it will be more complex, with layers of aromas.


Tasting unravels aspects of a wine's character that smelling cannot. Humans can interpret combinations of only five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami (spice). You may notice the sharpness of a young white wine, for instance, or the astringency of a full-bodied young red.

The body of a wine is based on its alcohol content - the higher the alcohol, the heavier the wine. If the alcohol content is high, the wine will taste harsh, and if the alcohol content is low it will be runny. The taste of a balanced wine encompasses a harmony of all its elements: fruit, alcohol, acidity, tannins. Wine is best tasted by sloshing it in the mouth before swallowing - this will help gain a fair idea of its most salient elements. After understanding the appearance and aroma of the wine, tasting completes the assessment of the wine’s quality.

Evaluating wine

There are three fundamentals to consider in evaluating a wine’s quality as given below:

Colour and clarity

A wine’s appearance is best evaluated by holding it against a white background. Pour out a half-full glass of wine - into a clear glass - and examine the wine's colour and clarity. It should appear clear and brilliant, rather than murky, and should be appropriate for its varietal and age.

The colour depends on the grape variety, the maturity of the grapes at harvest, fermentation, aging, and oxidation process during vinification and bottling. The colour of young white wines ranges from a pale yellow to a deep amber. White wines will darken and exhibit a deeper colour as they age.

On the other hand, red wines turn paler as they age. Young red wines range from a pale red to a deep ruby, usually displaying a deep brown red hue around the edges as they age.


The most important intrinsic factor in evaluating a wine’s character and quality is its smell. In fact, most of wine’s taste is actually attributed by its aroma.

To fully interpret a wine’s aroma, gently swirl it in your glass to volatize the aromas. The smell should be fresh with the distinctive