Tasting Wine: the Appearance

February 1, 2017

3 minutes read


Everybody can drink wine, but not everybody can taste wine. It needs practice to examine the wine you´re tasting. Practise that may see as repetitive at first, but will become more fun along the way while you´re becoming more skilled. In this 4-post series we focus on the systematic approach of tasting wines, with as first step the Appearance.


The key thing to bear in mind if you´re tasting a wine, is that you have to describe it to a friend of yours. What do you see, smell & taste? Do you like the wine? And what is your objective conclusion?


If you’re describing the wine you’ve tasted, try to speak in words to everyone understands. Stick to ‘’strawberry, leather, sweet, vanilla’’, rather than ‘’the back of my garage’’!


To examine every wine, a systematic approach of tasting wine is developed by the WSET, the #1 global recognized wine education organisation. It’s a 4-step approach that really works & helps you to ‘’break down’’ and give an objective conclusion about that wine. First, it’s the Appearance, then the Nose, the Palate with as last your Conclusion.


The ideal set-up of a wine tasting is in a room with no influences from outside. No weird smells of food, smoke, perfume, but odour-free. Also, natural light & a white surface to check the wine’s Appearance on, is important too. Furthermore, your palate needs to be clean, so leave that cigarette, coffee, sandwich or chewing gum for later. As last, a so-called tulip-shaped ISO glass is preferred (or any glass that looks the same). Wide from the bottom while going up inwards moving. Perfect for swirling the wine & capture the aromas that the wine releases.

The main reason we look at the appearance of the wine is to check if there are any faults. If the wine is too old, if the cork seal failed letting air into the bottle & damage the wine, are all signs that we can write off the wine & call it ‘’out-of-condition’’.
’Out-of-condition’’ wines can have an orange or brown colour, although not all wines that have that colour are ‘’off’’. It is often a sign of healthy old wines that are aged. Haziness can detect a fault, or the wine is on purpose not filtered by the winemaker.


Have a look at the colour of the wine. How intense is the colour? Tilt the glass above the white surface & look through the glass to the rim on the wine. Which colour is it?



- Purple: an indicator of youth
- Ruby (blood red)
- Garnet (orangey): an indicator of age
- Tawny (brown): also an indicator of age



For white wines it is:
- Lemon: an indicator of youth
- Gold: an indicator of age
- Amber: an indicator of age



For rosés:
- Pink: an indicator of youth
- Salmon:
- Orange: an indicator of age


A couple examples to describe the appearance of a wine are; Clear, Pale intensity, Ruby ; Clear, Deep, Purple ; Clear, Pale, Lemon colour.


Now that you know the Appearance of the wine, let's move on to the Nose!

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Wine Rebel
Hugo de Grootstraat 115, Delft, The Netherlands

KVK-nummer: 70927340
BTW nummer: NL069862540B01

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