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Tasting wine

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Wine speaks to those who know how to listen. It sometimes murmurs, occasionally browbeats, suggests here, states the obvious there, and, elsewhere, masks a perfume, a fragrance, or calls upon ancient memories. (Michel Onfray)

Concentrate on your impressions...


Use a tulip-shaped glass to intensify the aromas and do not pour too much wine (a third of a glass is sufficient). Hold the glass by the foot unless you wish to warm it.

And now, try to focus on all your senses...

There are several criteria for describing wine, especially smell and taste. Here is some simple advice about how to taste, either with friends, at a restaurant or with specialists. Wine tasting takes place in three steps and each one calls on a different senses: sight, smell and taste. Here are the different steps involved in tasting wine:

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1st step: look at the wine

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Hold the glass up against a white background to observe the colour, which varies from purple to orangey depending on the wine's age.

Next, evaluate the wine's thickness, or "body", which is an indication of quality, by tilting the glass in order to look at the rim.

Then, swirl the glass gently to watch the "tears" or "legs" (transparent drops or streaks) fall down the side of the glass at a rate that depends on the thickness.

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2nd step: smell the wine

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First, place your nose just above the glass for an initial impression of the overall bouquet.

Then, swirl the wine in the glass and smell it again to perceive its more subtle aspects.

Is the nose mineral, herbaceous, musky or spicy?

According to your perception threshold, you can discern from among some 700 different aromas in a glass of wine. Perhaps you will be reminded of apple, grapefruit, clove, black pepper, lavender, honey, warm bread, or even earth and tobacco! The list of smells is very long and diverse.

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3rd step: taste the wine

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To do like the professionals, drink the wine in small sips. Pinch your lips and roll the wine around in your mouth so it comes into contact with all the taste buds. 

This is important because the tip of the tongue perceives sweetness, whereas the sides distinguish acidity and the base picks up bitterness. Furthermore, this is the order in which the taste sensations reach the brain! To facilitate the smelling of retronasal aromas, it is best to take a breath of fresh air into the mouth.

The impressions you have on the palate during three consecutive stages are essential.

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First of of all, there is the "attack", or initial impression the wine makes on entry.  This lasts for just a few seconds and can be flabby, vivacious, round, etc.  The next stage is when the wine coats the surface of the tongue. This is called the "middle palate" and enables tasters to notice astringency, acidity and softness i.e. its "tactile" qualities in winespeak.

The final stage in tasting is called the "finish". What impression does the wine leave once it has been swallowed? If the flavour (whose length is measured in "caudalies" – one caudalie = one second) lasts for several seconds, than the wine can be said to have a "long aftertaste".  This indicates excellent quality.

dégustation Château La Louvière