Photos by exquisiterioja A nest between grape vines
Tasting a wine is a sort of sensorial scanning to elicit whether it is alright (and how much it is) or it shows “funny things”. Evident unbalanced sensations in the mouth, unpleasant odours such as mould, metallic, carton, earthy, medicinal (but not always) soiling… and some other unpleasant perceptions tasted in a wine makes easy to find it not particularly acceptable.
Most common which is often noticed in wines is, on the one hand acidity corrected (common oenological practice nowdays) and on the other addition of oak alternative products to the wines: oak tannins, chips or staves.
Micro-oxigenation, cold maceration, hiper-oxigenation, musts decoloring, seeding selected yeasts, copigmentation, enzymes, triggers, cation exchange, must disgorging using flotation techniques, clarification with gelatins, pH reduction, reverse osmosis, use of the “flash-détente” technique that actually disrupts the cellular structure of the grapes… all this is common terminology in the modern wine making practices. In short, when you get the chance to taste a biodynamic or natural or simply one of those great fine wines harmonically produced, you marvel at the easy roundness and glory of the wine and you may ask: ¿what is this beauty?.
Well, finally let´s add some other clues that could help us to get the truth of a wine and its quality-price ratio, regardless the brand name.
Drinking rosé wine from the “porron” in a medieval wine cellar in Haro
Visually, keep an eye on possible lack of brightness and sharpness, superfluous intensity of colour, intense purple-blue haze in reds without integrated colour nuances.
On the nose, if you perceive – in a white wine no aged in oak barrels – that its aromatic profile shows diverted towards ripe fruit and jam, this means it was elaborated somehow or other carelessly. Also evident aromas of bananas or any other exotic fruits, or hints out of context depending on the origin of the grapes, that is actually saying there was overuse of selected yeasts.
Oak shavings odours usually release volatiles such as mown green grass, oak wood, coconut, clove, sweet toasted oak, vanilla, fresh spice. And those exaggerated grape fresh pulp aromas perceived in a red wine, within a different profile of roundness in the mouth but with smoothness more typical of a white wine… is telling you that in could have been elaborated using the “flash-détente” technique.
Smoothness on the palette, harsh notes and hints of sweetness refer to oak tannin powder.
How can you detect in a wine the the possible addition of two or more chemical additives? You open the bottle, take a couple of glasses because the wine is ok. Replace the cork tightly, leave the bottle in the fridge; a couple of days later you taste the wine again and something smells weird… bad news. Great wines are those that days after the bottle has been open, they show their greatness even more.
Well, the activity is already outlined; let´s see which ones of the individuals who – to their advantage as consumers – get it performed every now and then. Let´s experience and, in the meanwhile, enjoy the process.