Wine Tasting - The Sense of Smell
There are a few very important things to note when we "nose" a wine. It is suggested to first smell the wine before swirling, noticing the delicate aromas. Next, swirl the wine and smell again after it is at rest. Depending on the bouquet, you may then notice a profound difference in the odors emerging. Aroma is a smell that originates from the actual grape, with very clear cut characteristics. Aroma is most prevalent in young wines. The bouquet of a wine refers to smells generated as a result of aging; smells found particularly in mature wines that were aged in a bottle. The bouquet generally has much softer and complex characteristics than aromas. Identifying what you smell is usually the most challenging part in wine tasting. Although there are many smell categories used to describe characteristics of wine, none have been exclusively agreed upon.
Wine Tasting - The Sense of Taste
After observing your wine using the sense of sight and smell, it is then time to use your palate to identify tastes. This is far more detailed than simply tasting as we would any other beverage. We must remember to note the characteristics of the wine on all sensory areas of the tongue. Sweetness is detected on the very tip of the tongue, while bitter tastes are sensed in the extreme rear. Saltiness is sensed on the front, upper sides of the tongue, and the acidity-sour taste is sensed mainly on the sides. Some suggest focusing your attention on one sensation at a time in order to be more efficient in your taste. Try taking a sip of wine and swallowing immediately. Then try another sip, this time letting the wine work well around the palate into these sensory areas before swallowing. You will recognize a noticeable difference in the intensity of flavors!
Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced SO-vin-yawn BLONK)
As with chardonnay, the purest expression of the sauvignon blanc grape is found in France, in the Loire Valley (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume) and Bordeaux. However, it also make superb wines in New Zealand, California (where it is sometimes called fumé blanc), Australia, South Africa, and Chile. In Bordeaux, it is blended with the semillon grape to produce both fine dry wines (Graves) and the great sweet wines of Sauterne and Barsac.
The most salient characteristic of sauvignon blanc is its distinctive, penetrating aroma, which can evoke scents of grapefruit, lime, green melon, gooseberry, passion fruit, freshly mown grass, and bell pepper. Grown in cooler climates and in fertile soils promoting excessive vine growth, herbaceous smells and flavors can dominate the character of the wine, while in warmer regions, the melon, citrus and passion fruit aromas and flavors emerge.
Most producers ferment and age their sauvignon blancs in stainless steel to accentuate the wine’s crisp, zesty, bracing qualities, while a few barrel-ferment the wine. Malolactic fermentation is rare, and barrel-aging usually is limited to a few months’ duration.
Sauvignon blanc is a very versatile food wine that can complement everything from shellfish and Caesar salad to fried chicken and aged Jarlsberg cheese.
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