The visual examination represents the first phase of the organoleptic judgment process. This introductory information is often confirmed by following olfactory and flavor analysis. In cases where one observes anomalies already in this phase, the tasting is over. The visual examination of a wine is based on three principal aspects:
The first aspect is cleanliness. One should make sure that there are no alterations. A wine is limpid when there are no suspended particles. In order to evaluate the transparency of the wine, the taster should tilt the glass over a piece of writing and verify that the print still has sharp outlines. If a wine is not only limpid but also luminous, the wine is referred to as crystal clear. A veiled wine is cloudy, having many suspended particles brought about by an alteration or disease. A wine is considered quite limpid when there is only a subtle veil due to refermentation or long aging.
The color of a wine is determined by the contact the must has with the skin. The color depends on the amount of time the wine is left to macerate. A rosé for example, is subject to a partial maceration. Other factors can affect the color such as the variety, the amount of rainfall during the course of the season, vinification techniques, the length of the fermentation, and the use of wooden containers during the maturation of the wine.
Greenish yellow: a color that characterizes very young wines that are light and fresh with high acidity
Straw yellow: also characteristic of young wines that have a more balanced ratio between acidity and softness
Golden yellow: a color typical of passito wines, obtained from overripe grapes; when seen in dry white wines, usually this color indicates the first stages of oxidation
Amber: topaz, this color presents itself in wines obtained from late harvest grapes intended for the production of passito or wines high in alcohol
Soft rosé: a tone similar to the petals of peach blossoms; if it takes on a purplish hue, this indicates a young wine
Cherry red: a tone similar to the colors of cherries; the wine can take on hues from violet to orange depending on the degree of maturation
Dark rosé red: a rosé wine with a color similar to that of a red wine
Purple red: characterizes very young wines that are tannic and acidic
Ruby: color of young wines with a good balance between acidity, tannins, and softness
Garnet: color of mature wines with medium-length aging with a good ratio between acidity, tannins, and softness with an emphasis on softness
Red orange: brick red color, typical of important red wines with long aging; if observed in young wines, it is a symptom of degradation
The fluidity of a wine is determined in two ways. It can be evaluated by means of pouring, in that when the wine is poured, it flows into the glass either lightly or heavily. This concept can also be determined by evaluating the legs. Tilting or spinning the glass will form legs or an arc. A wine with low fluidity forms a wide arc and the legs fall quickly while a tight and regular arc with slow-falling legs indicates the wine has good fluidity.
When considering a sparkling wine, an important element to consider is the effervescence or perlage, in French. One should evaluate the size of the bubbles (large, quite fine, fine), the number of bubbles (few, quite numerous, numerous), and the persistence of the effervescence (fading, quite persistent, persistent). Optimal perlage is made up of fine bubbles that are both numerous and persistent.
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