Tasting Wine: Context & Method
Now we're gonna take a dive into the harder version, which at the harder version. But, um, the more developed version and this is really how to be a great taster. And if you want to be a great taste or you need two things, the first thing is the good news. And that's context. You have to have context, you can't say or even develop an idea about wine if you don't know what the different wines feel like, right. So I'm gonna ask you, what's the acidity level in a certain wine? Or what's the tannin level in a certain wine? And we're gonna answer that on the same scale every single time. It's either low, medium minus media meeting, plus or high. It's the same scale every time you have to be consistent. That's part of Matthew. We'll talk about and you can't do it unless you have related those things. So if the only one in the world you've ever tasted is this California Chardonnay and I say what's he asked me like, Oh, it's high acid. It's like, Well, it's actually not. This is actually surpr...
ised medium acid within the world of wine. So to develop your context. You have to go taste the wines of the world. That's your homework, right? So it's not so, Sabet. It's good due diligence to have to go and drink all the wine. What we're gonna do over the next two days, a supercharge your context, right? I can say, OK, here, There it is. Go do it. Go drink all the wine world. It would take quite a long time to Dio. I've been working hard at it for the last two decades and I haven't done it yet. But what we will do it say Okay, this is what medium acid feels like And this is what high tannin feels like and what low tenant feels like and what residual sugar feels like and all those things. So then you're context gets supercharged and you can become a great taster in a much more timely fashion. The next piece you need is the method, and this is this means we're going to use the same method, same application every single time we taste a wine and so it's not like you know what? Today I want to look at it this way and think about it that way. And so I was like, Yeah, I didn't like the way do that. I'm gonna do it a different way. Well, then today doesn't relate to yesterday anymore. Do you know what I mean? You have to do the exact same thing every single time. It becomes, you know, almost monastic. Just like this, is it? This is it. This is it. When you do that, you develop that when you develop that discipline, you are able to actually make good sense of what we're gonna dio. So you all have wine, and we're gonna work through the method. And what we do is we do a visual inspection and then you smell it and then you taste it and see how it feels that we make some conclusions about it. So what you have is this and the first thing we want to dio is look at it. So the way you look at it, I've got one of these piece of paper to you. Pick it up and you turn it over. Not so far that it pours out, but you have to look at it against a white background, right? And the first question up here is What color is it at the center? What color do you see? Okay. Golden yellow. That's fine. Is it a deep golden yellow or a like old yellow in the middle? Right. And so I'm asking questions that actually require contexts right away. You see that you need context and the method. And so I'm going to say this is actually sort of medium plus golden yellow like it's got a lot of color. It's not lacking for color. Um, well, compare it to wine in the next segment where you'll start to see how those things work. But so for the moment, trust me and say, this is deep golden yellow. And then once we have red wines, we're gonna look at what color is it at the rim. So how far when you when you turn it over the very, very last bit. That's the rim. But we're not gonna look there just yet. Gonna save that for the reds and then brightness. How bright is it? Just look cloudy, dull bright or starbright like, really reflective. What do you think? Right, right. I think rights. The right answer. And then Clearwater Band is another thing we're gonna address and reds and then sediment presence. This is important. Just answer yes or no. Is there any sediment? Okay, so we blow by that. Is it bubbling? So that do you think that's the gas question? If we're bubbling, we might start Think about things like champagne or Prosecco so and so forth. So it's not bubbling, then viscosity. This is important. So get it going in the glass and it's okay if you splash and get someone your neighbor, that's still okay. And then, um, you know, growing up, I remember my parents. I was talking about the legs and now people tend to call them tears. But see how the wine is falling back down from the high water mark on the glass and see how it runs. That's the viscosity. Everybody see this. Okay, so that's that is a measure of how viscous this one is in the slower it goes, the higher the viscosity. Right? So you want to describe that in the same way? Is this low, medium minus medium, medium plus or high viscosity and you don't know yet? We're gonna learn. I can tell you. This is medium plus viscosity. This is what medium pluses Gosse looks like. It runs more quickly. It be medium more quickly, still medium minus for just sheets. It's gonna be low viscosity. Okay, I'm really just sticks there and hangs on the side. That's gonna be high. So you're right, you're right at the sort of 80% markets is medium plus it's Casati. And so that's fine and good just to name those things. But what does it tell us? Viscosity in wine comes from either residual sugar or of which this one has none, I can tell you, or alcohol, and it's a little counterintuitive. But because of capital reaction, the higher the alcohol, the higher the viscosity in the wine. So it'll actually, if there's more actual, hang on the side of the glass longer and make longer, slower, fatter tears. Right? And so where do you get alcohol in wine? How does this happen? How do you get more alcohol? It happens by virtue of more rightness, right? So when you make wine, you basically have a fruit, which is sugar, and you add yeast in the yeast, eat the sugar and they make alcohol. That's how it's super simple. sounds happened for for thousands of years and will continue to do so. So we can say, if you've got higher alcohol, you probably started with higher sugar. And if you had more sugar, did you likely grow in a warm place or a cool place? Warm, warm, exactly. Right on. So we can surmise, based on just the viscosity, knowing that it's alcohol dependent that this wine probably comes from a warmer place. That cool right? It's so you're starting to learn something here and then color is another thing that you will have more color in Mawr developed grapes, which come from warmer places. So our last point viscosity is actually and that the idea that it comes from a warm place is corroborated by the first point, the color of the centre. Right, So next we want to smell it. And so you invited a little discussion about how to smell. And again, I find, um, you can go right into it. You can sit back from a little ways, but play around with it. I think actually, if you pick the glass up off the table and don't swirl it, you might smell something. And then if you swear that you smell something different. Um, which I think is pretty interesting. But in I do find that if I leave my mouth open just a little, that I do smell more. Is that working for you? Yeah. I never thought about whether or not I was leave my mouth open, but I guess it was always, like, closed and yeah, trying to see if I found out just always smiling. You know, something like I drink wine again. This is great. I think I'm putting. Unlike the serious Yeah, no more serious faces. So this is this is a really important moment where I want to say there's no wine. Speak. There is no wine. Speak. There is no right answer. There are no words that you feel like you have to use none of it. You have to use intensely personal language to describe a wine. And that's that's a big part of again making accessible, making it easy and making it personal and fund, which is the whole point, right? I'm not describing a wine for you. I'm described this one for me because I'm the one drinking it and either like it or write down. So in this case, I'm gonna ask you to describe three fruits, one at least three. What it smell, the wine and what three things do you smell? And there's some visual clues up here, which are probably actually pretty useful. But all that aside, like just and talk personally, I'll give you a story. I am the first time I tasted this. There's a muscat from Ruther Glen in Australia, and it za sweet wine dessert wine. It's made a very concentrated style, and I picked it up. Remember the first time I had It was a little Nell in Aspen. I picked up that glass and I smelled it. I was like, Oh my God, I'm in fourth grade again, charging through my grandmother's front door. She's been baking gender snaps like that. Memory just came flying back. And that's amazing. Like that was, that's a wonderful moment, like, I love that line just for that memory. But if I said that, Oh, it's my grandmother's ginger snaps, you know it doesn't necessarily related to other people, but that's not the point. The point is, I'm relating this to myself in my own life and what I enjoy, and it's totally important that you have that same unhinged experience. So when I ask you, you know, what are the three fruits there's I'm not waiting for you to like. Give me the right answers and when. If you just just to talk, it's important just to talk and then we'll take it. Will make sense of what will you actually say? So what do you smell? Peaches. Awesome pardon. Pairs made their great. What color pair? The green pair of red pear, I would say. Green green. Okay, what else? One more and Citrus? Exactly. All white wines have Citrus. That's a great call. If you were like feeling study. Totally OK, but is it like lime and lemon? Or is it more developed and ripe like an orange orangey? Okay, great. And so that makes a lot of sense. If it's lime and lemon, you might be drinking a wine from a colder place. If it's more developed. An argie, it's probably wind from a warmer place, right? Or it could also speak to a certain type of grape. But for sure, you know, we're already talking about this coming from a warmer place and just continues to corroborate what we're seeing. Okay, Great. Sets the fruits, and then here's the earth part and just start poking at it. Is there anything earthy here? I agree with you. Yeah. Resounding knows I don't find anything earthy here either. And that's important. The first thing to do is is there or isn't there? And then if there is, what is it? Right. And in this case, we're all saying no and we'll develop the idea, Um, in a second as to what the Earth means. Let's talk about the wood. Is there any evidence of oak here? Yeah. What is the evidence? Toast. Strong for me and the vanilla as well. Okay, great. Yeah, that's really important. It's I as I teach around the country sleep. It was like, Oh, yeah, it smells like. Okay, well, what is that smell? Like? It's You have to think of yourself a little bit like a detective or an attorney. You can't just say OK, well, you know, the shoe fits, So throw him in. Jail is like, you know, is a sign of size 11 Bruno, Molly, and it's covered in blood. Like you really have to develop this idea and say yes. The I smell vanilla. I smell toast. Therefore, his Agent Oak, and therefore there's no deal. Therefore, his French oak. Right. So you're using all these these pieces to actually understand how this thing was made. I understand how is made you understand where it was made in again. You're learning about wine via tasting, and then is there anything else? Oh, did you smell any deal? No. Okay. Great. Mean either. Um, I only know of one white wine that's aged in American oak, and I avoid it Doesn't mean you should Is there anything else that you smell free for all anything? Just throw it out there. I think in general it just smells really sweet. Yeah, it does. It smells really right, doesn't it? Yeah. And what it? So we can't tell if it's sweet or dry just from smelling it. Right? But those sense that you're smelling remind you of something you've had. That is sweet. And that's pretty interesting. So starting to think again about rightness, more rightness coming from warmer places. So see how it's starting to add up. Do you feel this? Good. Right on. Okay, so let's make a couple conclusions based on what we've observed here. So we know it's a white one that's aged in oak, and we can start to get smart about that. If you look at all the let's say, the world of wine is this big, Okay, it's a white wine. You just got smaller. It's a white wine that's aged in oak. It got really small right now. There aren't very many white wines there, actually aged in oak Rieslings not aged in oak divers smears, not Agent of Gruner Veltliner. I mean, it might be an old oak, but not new oak that will actually contribute these flavors. There's a whole long list of grapes that are not typically age in new would. The list of grapes that are agency would include things like chardonnay, occasionally some not, although not this one. Some sauvignon blanc and semillon blends Marchionne and roussanne grapes from the Southern Room Valley that will discuss, but really the When you when you've smelled this and you understand the oak and let's say you didn't know what the one is, you can really very quickly begin to understand a lot about how the one was made him therefore where the wind might be from. And then the earthy point. Um, why do we What do we look for? Earth? Any ideas? This is the idea of terroir, right that the wine can can begin to, and it doesn't have to have Earth to express this, but it begins to express its sense of place via an earthy aroma. And so the great example is Shibli, and I'm gonna put that on your homework list. Definitely. Go drink some shebli. If it's good Shibly and it doesn't have to be expensive. If it's good Shibly, it'll smell like oyster shells. It basically grows on. The vineyards grow on fossilized oyster shells and you, When you pick that up, you can actually smell that. And that's pretty cool. One very general rule, and it's very general, but it's important is that we tend to find earthy aromas in old world wines. T there tends to be, I mean, all this Jennifer, the grapes from which we make wine have come from Europe, and they're they have an affinity. I mean people, you know you're at your best in the place where you're from generally or where winds do their best. They're most comfortable. And where they're most comfortable, they tend to have the opportunity to express the flavors of the soil upon which they grow. And so when you get those earthy flavors, I mean actual flavors of the earth you can begin to think about. Okay, maybe this is a wine from the old world that meaning Europe, right? The absence of those flavors would say the opposite of that were troubling. Drinking a wine from the New World such as California are actually North America, South America. Australia makes sense. Okay, so we know at this point that our wine comes from the New World, right? It was aged in oak. So it's one of that short list of varietals. Um, and we and because it doesn't have any Earth, it's from the New World. And also because of elevated alcohol and the fact that you smell it, it smells like it's gonna be sweet. This perception of rightness, it likely comes from a warm climate. Right. So let's keep going. You need to taste it, which I'm ready to dio importantly, when you taste, you have a spit cup. Do what you want. I'm not gonna tell you whether to use it or not. But what I will ask you to do is make sure you swallow just even the tiniest little bit. Because there are things that you feel in the back of your throat that you that you can't feel, Um, unless you swallow it. So do that. Give it a give this world. He's good, but that's not the point. It's not about me when we're using the method about being objective. So what do we taste? You taste the peach. You taste the pair. What was the third fruit? Orange, orange taste? The orange. What of it? Crisper orange. More like the pair. Sort of the testiness of the orange. Okay, so orange zest. That's great in the pair. And the page to taste the page. Still get me too. Yeah, it's pretty. It's pretty, right? Pretty well developed Earth question. Again. This is just the method. Were just double checking our work every single time. Is it earthy? I agree with you. I don't find anything earthy. If you taste any evidence of the engaging, What does it taste like? That vanilla? Lots of vanilla. Yeah, I agree. Okay, And then tannins are something we're gonna dress with. Red wines only, um, alcohol. So this is here. You have the low meeting minus medium, medium plus in high scale. Again. Same scale every single time. What is the alcohol here? What does it feel like me as I'm talking to you, I'm actually getting pretty warm in here. Yeah. Yeah, it's elevated. Right? So, medium plus. And it's not enough for me to say it's elevated because elevated to me might be different than elevated to you. You know, drink a lot of tequila. So, um, so Milo might be quite high. That said so. We want to use the scale and uses, and so we say the same thing every time. And yes, in fact, it does feel like medium plus to me, which, you know, we can look on the bottom. I would guess it's probably 14 ish. 14% um, inspect its 14.9%. And so it's really it's important to be able t name that because again, the alcohol corresponds to a level of rightness, and the rightness corresponds to a place. And that's where all about learning, right? And then the acid So this is drinking again. I think it's important to feel like, Do you feel your mouth watering? Do you feel your mouth watering? Don't say no. Am I wrong? No, not as much as much as much as what? Well, that's a good question. We're going to develop that again. That's the context. And so my mouth is watering, but it's not a whole lot, right? So why should trigger a physiological response? It should make your mouth. Water should make her belly rumble should make you want to eat and should make you want to drink more. It's self fulfilling prophecy, which is it's the way it should be. In this case, it does. They all have acid, and it's how much acid doesn't have. And in this in. So it's my job to supercharge your context, right? And so in this case, I would say this is just a medium acid, right? We're gonna try some Soviet bloc in the next section. That's gonna be a great example of high acid, and you'll have them side by side and really feel the difference, which is which is important. So in this case, again helping your context here medium acid and acidity also can correspond to climate. The higher the acid, typically the cooler the climate, right? It's just about rightness. You've got tons of acid in an unripe piece of fruit, and as that piece of fruit gets more and more ripe, the acidity goes away and the sugar goes up. Or at least your perception of these two things. Do you feel that? Okay, so in this case, where the acidity in the shortening great story is really high. You know, in May or June, over the course of the summer, I got more and more right. Acidity came further and further and further back until it got to where we are today, which is medium and again corroborates our idea that this comes from a warm climate. So length is how long does it hang in there, right? And so even now, a couple minutes after tasting it, or actually put in your mouth can still taste the wine. Awesome. Okay, so we would describe the length as meeting plus toe high exactly or yeah, exactly. Medium plus toe high in terms of length and length content also speak to quality. One way people tend to cheat with length is they use a whole lot of this stuff, right? Use a whole lot of oak in the case of new Okay, it really if we put water in a barrel, it'll start to taste like that. And that's that's not really interesting to me. I'm not interested in OECD up water. I'm more interested in oak as a part of the whole, um and so I'm all for using it in the right occasion. But I want the length t not be entirely dependent on the barrel. And in this case, I don't feel as it is, do you? No, I agree. Yeah. Okay, cool. So yeah, so that also continues to push the idea of Yeah, this is a high quality wine. The last piece is balance. Balance is everything, and it's it really is everything. This is where you begin to. It's not. Do I like this one or don't like this one? It's where we begin to make a qualitative idea understanding a statement about the wine itself, and it's either in balance roundabouts. And in the case of this wine on one, think of it like a teeter totter. Right in the case of white wine on one city, you have the fruit. You know, all that really ripe fruit we had. And the alcohol. And that's gonna make something. Go this direction. Unless you can balance it out with enough acidity. Right. And so, while we just call this medium acid, does it have enough to keep the wine from feeling flabby? So it does your mouth feel fresh? Do you feel like the wine carries itself well or is it just a big, goopy gross thing? I vote for the former. It feels really balanced to me, right? So, yes, it's big. Yes, it has a lot of alcohol in a lot of fruit, but it also has the bounce. It has the requisite acidity to straighten out the teeter totter. Right? Do you feel me? You know what I mean? Okay. And that's the balance. If we're out of balance, something's wrong, right? Like anything in life. So we can say its balanced in there for of some quality. So initial conclusion. If you were tasting this blind, you would start to say okay, based on all the evidence I collected, what can I say about this thing? Is this an old world, a new world wine? And but you already know what the wine is, but that that's Ah, that's the excise. Isn't here the parlor trick of tasting a blind? It's really understanding. How How do we understand the world of wine based on taste in these things? So we can understand from the lack of earth that this is a new world wine? And what kind of climate is this likely from more warm. Okay, and in this case, age range, we didn't talk a lot about it where it's a brand new wine. As you let's say, you cut an avocado and you leave it on the counter. What's it gonna dio? What are these apples doing? Age. They're turning brown. What is that process? Oxidation. Exactly. It's oxide, actually, just like us and oxidation. Oxidant is the enemy of wine and overtime. Wines take on more and more and more oxygen, and they'll start to brown in color. Those fresh fruits, your fresh peach and your fresh pair well, actually start to diminish in. That won't taste like the fresh fruits any longer. In the case of the Chardonnay, it'll start to taste like hazelnuts and honey and all these. Second, those are secondary Roma's, as opposed to the fresh fruits. So in this case, if we'd seen some of those more developed aromas again, the honey and hazelnuts would say, Okay, this is maybe older than five years or even beyond 10 years, and the color would have start to change and it would have been brown. But here, the color still very primary and the fruits of very fresh. When I say this is to 5 years of age and then grapes or blends again if you're If you're hedging at this blind, you say Okay, well, what what could this possibly be? And what could it possibly be? It's Remember the world's this big white wine. It's this big. It's aged in oak. It just got that big right? Just from that oak piece, you could say, Well, it could be chardonnay. It could be Marsan and roussanne, or could be something like sauvignon blanc and semillon. Those those are things that get aged in oak, and from there he say, Well, you know, does it taste like semi own? Where would taste like Landel in and and bees wax. And we didn't talk about any of those things. Does it taste like Marchand roussanne and and very, very outsides in very oily and texture and very exotic fruits. And we didn't talk about those things either. So again, you're deducing that this is a chart, right? And then quality. What quality do we say this was? Yeah. Yeah, medium plus the high based on the balance based on the concentration based on the length. So you can say this is, you know, high quality wine from a warm climate in the New World made from chardonnay. So very, very quickly you've been able to talk about what is this one objectively, without inserting to the conversation? Do I like it or not? That's the next piece. Okay, if you do like chardonnay, um, this is a good one to drink. So this actually made by a friend, Randy Lewis in Napa Valley? But the whole point here is we could actually OK, break out the books. I guess they make chardonnay in Napa Valley. What's that place all about you? You've red, red, red, red, red. Then you go the winds during you buy something, you maybe you like it or you don't here, you can actually back into it. And I think it's a much more quick, intelligent and certainly more fun process to understand. Okay, we know that a naturally they grow chardonnay. It's a warm places. The tradition. It's actually quite good. Um, what do you think you feeling? This questions? I have a question from our online audience. I have J wondering. Is there a way to neutralize your taste buds to taste wine, he says. I have noticed that the same wine will taste different, and I have not been able to figure out why. That's the case. That's that's a very good point. A big part of it is us, you know, we tasted in the morning and we're tasting in the evening. Um, you know, how long is the bottle been open? Is the same bottle mean one? One important Pete's to note is that this that we stop up the bottle with is a piece of tree bark. Literally. It's a piece of tree bark, so that has a huge opportunity, and ideally, it doesn't. But it has an opportunity to affect what's in the bottle, right. It's not a perfect solution. Um, this is a screw cap. And it's perhaps, um, or standard solution that has its pluses and minuses to but depending, you know, every bottle they say they're no great wines there, only great bottles. So there's a very good potential that, you know, there is. There are some differences, but all that said, you know, if we can account for all that being the same Um, yeah, how do you neutralize your taste buds? I actually, you could do it with a cracker, Um, like we have here. Or you could do with a beer. That's a great way to do it. Yeah. Yeah, when you're tasting lots of wines, you have to refresh. So, like the acidity, for example, becomes cumulative. And so over time your mouth, your gums, are gonna hurt you mouth, they're gonna hurt. When I travel on, do the winemaking we do. It's a lot of tasting and spitting and tasting and spitting. At the end of the day, your teeth or black mouth hurts, and all you want is to brush your teeth and drink a beer. That's a good way to do it. Yes. Things to avoid before tasting You know, we'll talk a little bit about that with food wine pairing. But, um, you think about the physiological response when you drink the one where you put your mouth on your mouth waters, right? And so there's a sense of acidity. And if you bitter lemon and then you drank the wine that the city is gonna be exaggerated and you're not gonna really understand with winds about if I give you a chili pepper and you meet that and then you drink this wine, I think the spice is gonna be exaggerated. And that will be because because of the oak and the alcohol and you're not gonna understand with winds about two, So yeah, I mean, we'll get into that with food wine pairing, But for sure there is some basic principles of like that's gonna hurt and make it takes less good. I have someone from online, and it's actually J as well. Who says How do you read a label on a wine bottle? I'm not sure that's something that we're gonna be covering or we will talk about it. We'll talk about that a little, actually, in the next lesson as well. But we can give you a little insight now. And I think it's important to say, um, you know much like we talked about Earth, um, the idea of earth and wine describing whether it's New World or old world in the New World. Generally, we tend Teoh name winds by the Rydell. So in the case of this geese and Soviet bloc from New Zealand, it says, right on there that a sauvignon block. So it's really easy to understand what you get. If you were drinking sauvignon blanc from France, he wouldn't say Sauvignon Blanc very likely anywhere on the bottle. It would say something like Science fair or poor If you may, um, or Bordeaux Blanc, something like this. And, um, in that instance, we have to dig a little deeper, right to understand, like, Okay, So what is sincere would well in America. When we were in second grade, I was learning about dinosaurs, and I think the French kids in second grade, they learned that sounds fair actually means sauvignon blanc in that if you're drinking red burgundy, it means you're drinking peanut or right, so they're a couple language of the label pieces that will learn over the next couple of days. But in short, Struck's