If you have ever attended a sommelier contest you will have seen that one of the basic tests is the blind tasting and the determination of variety, region, year and vinification. This is certainly not an easy matter. How do they do it?
I will share with you some tricks and techniques to experiment or just to showboat to your friends.
1. Pay attention to the color
Color is very important for you to understand a lot about the variety and the age of the wine you are tasting. Young red wines tend to have a deeper color and blue shades, while the aged ones vary from ruby to tawny. Young whites, on the other hand, have pale lemon color or green hue, while the aged ones tend to have gold or amber color. Also, each variety has a different color intensity. For example, Pinot noir and Xinomavro are usually lighter than Syrah. On the other hand, moschofilero is almost grey with pale saumon shades, while malagouzia is more yellow.
2. Nose aromas are the ultimate sos
We can smell and distinguish much more things in the nose than in the mouth, so the aromas of the wine will tell us too much about its origins. There are some flavor characteristics for each variety. For example riesling has the triptych of mineral-honey-apricot notes while Syrah has aromas of black fruits and pepper. In addition, if the fruits are tropical, overripe or alcohol-dipped, then the wine comes from a warm climate and if it is earthy and herbaceous it comes from a colder.
3. Body - tannins - acidity - oiliness
Once we have noticed and smelled carefully, we are taking a sip. We try to identify the flavors of wine, but especially its mouth feeling. Is it oily? Does it have high acidity? Is it full bodied? What about sweetness? Does it have high tannins? The combination of the above gives us a lot of information about the variety and the vinification style. For example, nebbiolo, has high acidity, medium body and robust tannins while agiorgitiko is more round and mellow.
After collecting all the above information, we combine them and come to a conclusion. First we have to find the variety after the region and the age. A very smart approach is to start deselecting grape varieties, ending in 2-3 possible options. Then we choose which one fits most with what we tasted. Then, depending on perfume and color, we end up in wine’s age. Aged wines have many more tertiary fragrances (mushroom, soil, coffee, nuts, honey) than fresh fragrances. As far as color is concerned, as white wines get older, their color becomes more intense, while reds lose their color intensity.
I'm not telling you to go to a competition tomorrow morning, but the above is the basics you need to enter the world of blind testing. And the greatest secret of all? Taste, taste, taste!