Observing the wine in the glass allows one to assess clarity, colour with all its nuances and consistency, replaced by perlage in the case of sparkling wines. The first phase of tasting is thevisual inspection - the first point of the AIS wine tasting card - which provides a series of valuable clues to understand the type, composition and evolution of the wine being observed. This examination can also highlight negative situations such as alterations and diseases that can lead to the tasting being interrupted immediately. Most of the time, the appearance of the wine does not lie: it is up to the skill and experience of the taster to draw on his or her memory and connect what he or she sees to the wines previously tasted.

AIS wine tasting card: clarity

Wine clarity coincides with the presence or absence of suspended particles. To assess limpidity rigorously, an instrumental analysis must be carried out with a nephelometer capable of measuring the penetration and dispersion of a light ray inside the wine. The assessment of clarity can be hampered by the wine's lack of transparency, i.e. the property of the liquid to allow itself to be penetrated by light rays (which depends on the quality of the colouring substances in the wine). Maximum light penetration occurs in white wines, rosé wines and some reds. For reds with a compact colour, it is necessary to orient the glass in such a way as to exploit every bit of light, or better still to position it between the eye and a light source such as a simple candle.

Wine clarity: cloudy wine

A wine is veiled if it has numerous suspended particles and thus presents a pronounced opalescence and strong turbidity. In general, these are wines in which alterations, undesirable fermentations, malolactic fermentation, etc. have occurred. UNACCEPTABLE.

Wine clarity: fairly clear wine

A wine is sufficiently limpid if it has a few suspended particles. The quality is not necessarily compromised. Causes can be long bottle ageing or bottling without filtration in red wines rich in colouring matter, while in white wines it happens if they are bottled with yeast and then re-ferment in the bottle. In these cases the handling of the bottle during pouring must be carried out with extreme care. In all other cases, the presence of certain particles should arouse suspicion.

Wine clarity: clear wine

A wine is limpid if it does not have no suspended particles and therefore has no deposit.

Wine clarity: crystal-clear wine

A wine is crystal-clear if it does not have no suspended particles and has aintense luminosity.

Wine clarity: brilliant wine

A wine is brilliant if it does not have no suspended particles and has a high lustre that vividly reflects the rays of light striking it. This situation is favoured by the presence of carbon dioxide bubbles because these refract light rays and is therefore more frequent in sparkling and sparkling wines. Some important white wines, passito or liqueur wines, can also have a particularly brilliant colour.

AIS wine tasting card: colour

Colour is the most important element of the visual examination because it makes it possible to immediately understand certain characteristics of the wine and predicts others, which will then be verified in the olfactory and taste-olfactory examinations. The colour of wine is determined by polyphenols (anthocyanins, flavones, leucoanthocyanins, catechins, kampferol, quercitins, cinnamic acids, benzoic acids...) which are mainly present in the skin of the grapes. To obtain coloured wines in fermentation, contact between the liquid part of the must and the solid part must necessarily take place. Red vinification, also known as 'maceration', makes it possible to obtain red wines (200-500 mg/l of colouring substances) e rosé wines (20-50 mg/l of colouring substances)for which partial maceration is carried out. The concentration of the colouring substances depends on the intrinsic characteristics of the grape variety, the temperature and duration of fermentation, the amount of sulphur dioxide used and the number of pump-overs. Conversely, removing the marc produces the white wines (20-25 mg/l of colouring substances) also from black grapes. To produce white wines rich in personality, cryomaceration of the must and pellicular maceration (i.e. in contact with the skins) are used to extract the components that intensify colour, aroma and structure. Assessing the colour of the wine is essential to verify its correspondence with its typeas well as the relationship with the pedoclimatic environment, the grape variety and the ageing potential. The colour test ensures that no alterations such as oxidasic and phosphatic, ferric and protein cases are present in the wine (very rare) that could cause insolubilisation of some substances and the formation of coloured precipitates. Colour hue depends on the type of pigments present in the wine, acidity, pH and the state of oxidation of the polyphenols. In addition to being a reference for understanding the grape variety in front of you, it indicates the evolutionary state of the wine, as its variations are determined by the state of oxidation of the pigments.

Colour of wine: greenish yellow

The greenish yellow is the colour found in young, light and fresh white wines with little softness and acidity. These are wines obtained from a rigorous white vinification of grapes harvested slightly in advance that may have undergone clarification and filtration. This hue can be described as a very pale yellow with distinct green hues that generally diminish after the first year.

Colour of wine: straw yellow

The straw yellow is the colour found in most white wines that are still quite young and fairly balanced. In general, these are wines obtained by white vinification of grapes harvested at full physiological maturity, thus with a good acid/sugar ratio. This tonality can be described as a straw-like colour, while the different intensity or reflections (greenish or golden) depend on the pedoclimatic environment, the grape variety, the processing techniques and the evolution of the wine.

Colour of wine: golden yellow

The golden yellow is the colour found in more evolved and softer white wines. These wines are made from perfectly ripe or overripe grapes, with a possible short maceration before vinification and fermentation and/or maturation in wooden barrels. This warm, golden hue is reminiscent of yellow gold. If it lacks liveliness, it indicates a negative development of the wine's characteristics, which is probably old and/or too oxidised.

Colour of wine: amber yellow

Amber yellow is the colour found in white raisin or liqueur wines, very soft and not very fresh. This colour should be bright and shiny, if it is dull it indicates a bad situation such as old and/or over-oxidised wines.

Colour of wine: soft pink

The soft pink is the colour of rosé wines made from black grapes subjected to maceration with brief skin contact. If this hue has purplish reflections, the wine is young, if it has coppery reflections (onion skin colour), one can assume that the wine was obtained from the white vinification of grapes with a delicate colouring matter, such as Pinot Grigio.

Colour of wine: cherry pink

The cherry pink is the colour of rosé wines with a more intense hue similar to cherry pulp. These wines are generally obtained with a longer maceration and skins passage.

Colour of wine: claret pink

The claret pink is the colour of rosé wines with a hue similar to red winesso much so that it could also be described as a very faint ruby red. These wines are generally obtained with longer maceration and skin contact than the previous ones.

Colour of wine: purple red

The red purple is the colour of very young, hard red wines. It has strong violet hues reminiscent of fuchsia pink and is comparable to the cardinal's robe (cardinal red).

Colour of wine: ruby red

The ruby red is the colour of red wines that tend to be young with an excellent softness-to-hardness ratio and generally well balanced.

Colour of wine: garnet red

The garnet red is the colour of the most evolved and smooth red wines. If the shade is compact it is reminiscent of the colour of blood, if it is more transparent that of pomegranate.

Colour of wine: orangey red

The orange-red is the colour of very soft red wines with long ageing. The hue is reminiscent of brick, with hues ranging from brown to orange. If it is dull or in young wines, it is a negative indicator of oxidation that has caused deterioration.

AIS wine tasting card: consistency (still wines only)

The consistency of a wine is an indication of its ethyl alcohol and extractive substances. Wine is a substance consisting mainly of water (75-85%) and ethyl alcohol (10-14%)., followed by acids, possibly sugars and many other substances that flow over each other, giving the wine a variable, more or less dense appearance, with a consistency greater than that of water. Monovalent alcohols (ethanol...) are decisive in giving wine consistency for theMarangoni effect (= mass transfer along an interface due to a surface tension gradient). The evaluation of the consistency is also done to verify that the wine is not affected by diseases such as stringy, which can appear in white wines making them look like oil. Al consistency is assessed during mescita (when pouring the wine into the glass, assess how it goes down to the bottom), tumbler rotation (holding the glass at the base, rotate it slowly while carefully observing the movement of the wine); observation of tears and bows (after swirling the wine in the glass, it goes down the wall forming tears and bows). On the glass, the spaces between the tears left by the rotation of the wine for the Marangoni effect are called arches and can be wide or narrow. In particular, it has been observed that if the wine is very rich in ethanol, the arches are thicker, but this is not to be taken as an absolute truth. The consistency is given by: alcohols (ethyl, propyl...), polyhydric alcohols (glycerol...), polyphenols (tannins, anthocyanins...), monosaccharides (glucose, fructose...) polysaccharides (dextran, gum...).

Consistency of wine: fluid

Wine is fluid if it descends into the glass too lightly, slouching and insubstantialalmost like water. UNACCEPTABLE.

Wine consistency: not very consistent

The wine is not very consistent if falls into the glass rather lightly, with quick tears and wide bows. This situation is found in wines rather low in ethyl alcohol and with a weak structure, with a softness-hardness ratio in favour of the latter.

Wine consistency: fairly consistent

The wine is quite consistent if goes down in the glass with moderate smoothness, fairly fast tears and medium amplitude bows. This situation is found in wines of all colours as long as they have a discrete alcohol component and structure, with a softness-hardness ratio often in good balance.

Consistency of wine: consistent

Wine is consistent if it flows into the glass in an uneven manner, with slow, regular tears and dense arches. This situation is found in wines rich in ethyl alcohol and very soft structure (sometimes sugars).

Wine consistency: viscous

Wine is viscous if goes down in the glass syrupily, with very slow tears and very dense arches. This situation is found in very few passito, sweet liqueur or botrytised wines. If a wine that does not belong to these types is viscous, it is a defect caused by the stringy.

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AIS wine tasting card: effervescence (sparkling/sparkling wines only)

Effervescence replaces consistency in the evaluation of sparkling wines. Effervescence is due to the presence of foam and bubbles of carbon dioxide, a gas that is released from wine poured into the glass. Carbon dioxide is positive in this type of wine, neutral for young red wines, but becomes decidedly negative in developed or raisin wines as it denotes probable unwanted fermentation. Effervescence assessed positively during visual examination is that linked to the presence of natural carbon dioxide formed by yeasts during alcoholic fermentation in the production of sparkling wines, whether obtained by the Classical Method or the Martinotti Method, sweet or dry. In addition to determining the development of perlage, CO² has a similar effect at low temperatures: it favours the release of volatile substances, emphasises the wine's aroma and in the mouth causes a slight tingling, tactile sensation of pungency that accentuates gustatory freshness and hardness in general, attenuating sweetness and all softness.

Effervescence of wine: grain of bubbles

Depending on grain the bubbles may be coarse, quite fine or fine. Coarse bubbles are of a size reminiscent of sparkling mineral water. Fairly fine bubbles have intermediate dimensions and are the standard for sparkling wines on the market. Fine bubbles are very small in size, similar to the size of the tip of a pin.

Effervescence of wine: number of bubbles

Based on the number bubbles may be scarce, quite numerous. The bubbles are scarce if they are very rarefied and/or almost absent. Bubbles are quite numerous if they appear discontinuously and their formation is limited to a few points on the walls of the glass. Bubbles are numerous if they are abundant and form continuously from many places on the walls of the glass.

Effervescence of wine: persistence of bubbles

Based on persistence the bubbles may be evanescent, quite persistent. Le evanescent bubbles disappear within seconds after pouring the sparkling wine into the glass. The fairly persistent bubblesform for a few minutes and are generally not particularly numerous. The persistent bubbles are formed quickly and continuously even after a long period of standing of the sparkling wine in the glass and are usually also numerous. 

AIS wine tasting card: seizing the opportunity of the visual examination

When approaching AIS wine tasting, the aspiring sommelier, but often also the graduate sommelier, quickly scrolls through the visual examination entries to the point of almost ignoring it. It then frequently happens that in the tasting notes, the visual examination is dismissed as just colour and, if present, the evaluation of bubbles. Yet the clues that the wine in the glass gives are many and careful observation is the first step to fully understanding the wine, especially if you are tasting a wine from a grape variety or appellation that you are not familiar with. In an era where haste and speed reign supreme, where people want to taste right away, taking a moment to observe contributes to the sommelier experience and creates precious memory drawers from which to draw each time one encounters a new wine and faces a new sensory adventure.

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