How to Taste and Judge Good Wine
Posted by Sébastien Marquet – In late March, we hosted Blending with Sebastien Marquet, here at DC’s Wine Country’s Doukénie Winery. We shared and allowed 35 people into our barrel room to learn to blend and taste wine. This workshop is an exercise of blending four young wines (Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Merlot 2013, Cabernet Franc 2013 and Petit Verdot 2013) to create our 2014 Vintner’s Reserve, one of best sellers.
We started out the day discussing how to taste: what does the color of the wine in the glass look like? Is it deep, purple or does it look like light colored raspberries? The nose: there are two noses: one is in the glass before you swirl. Hold the glass right under your chin and does the wine share some flavor? Is it open? Heavy fruit, cinnamon, tobacco, green pepper are just a few aromas. The second nose is after you swirl allowing oxygen to release the aroma. Are you smelling tropical fruit, spices, fresh herbs or floral? The aroma wheel shown here helped everyone get a good idea of what descriptors could be used.
Then it’s taste. Remember that these wines need to stay one more year in the barrel. They are firm but not complete. The job of a winemaker is to see if there is potential in a year from now. How will the wine be then?
To swallow or spit? The throat actually does not taste. It’s the tongue and checks that determine bitterness, acidity, salty and tannins. Without tannins the wine will be flat. Here you’re looking to see how long the flavor stays on your mouth. Six – eight seconds is a good amount of time. A short finish is not good.
Next we’ll discuss the characteristics of the four wines we tasted and then how we blended them. Stay tuned for more about this fun event.