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Wine Tasting - The 1st S - See

Wine Tasting


A whole new experience

Welcome to our new blog series on wine tasting as we learn about the First S which is “See”.

Here’s where you’re evaluating the appearance of the wine which can vary depending on grape varietal, origin, maturity and condition. The primary reason for judging the appearance of a wine is to determine if there are faults. Faults can occur if a wine is old, has been stored incorrectly, has cork taint or wasn’t sealed properly, allowing air into the bottle. All of these things can cause a wine to be bad or “out of condition”.

You’re looking for four things:

  • Clarity
  • Depth of colour
  • Hue
  • Viscosity

To prepare, make sure you have good natural light and white surfaces against which we can look at the wine. Be sure to have a piece of paper and pen or pencil so you can take notes at each stage.



First, we’ll talk about clarity which may seem obvious until you know what to look for.

With the wine glass on the table, look at it from above. It should appear smooth, bright and reflective. If it appears faded or opaque, it may have defects.

When you hold the wine glass up to a light source, see if there are any suspended particles in it that make it cloudy. Unless the wine is meant to be that way, it should be crystal clear.

Then, hold the wine glass on an angle over a white surface to determine its transparency near the rim of the glass. This step can also show if there are any unwanted particles in the wine. A dull or cloudy wine may be an indication of improper filtering.

Finally, hold the wine glass vertically so the surface is at eye level. Check to see if there are any bubbles, which can indicate the presences of carbon dioxide. Unless you’re tasting a sparkling wine, there should be none.


Depth of Colour

Second, we’ll talk about depth of colour in which we look at its intensity and tint. The colour of all grape juice starts off basically the same with a greenish/gray colour. Each grape varietal has different coloured skins. The amount of time the juice is exposed to the skins will contribute to the intensity and tint of the wine. How ripe the grapes were when they were harvested and the age of the wine will also impact the colour of the wine.

With the wine glass on the table, look at it from above. This will give you a good idea of the intensity of its colour which can range from light to dark. A white or rosé wine may appear vivid or bright whereas a red wine may appear opaque or dense.

Then, hold the wine glass on an angle over a white surface to determine its intensity and tint. The closer you look near the rim of the glass will help you discover these. For example, a well-aged white wine may have a deep intensity colour with a straw-yellow tint.



Third, we’ll talk about colour tone or shade which is an indication of the age of the wine. Evaluating the hue can be done at the same time as depth of colour.

A young white wine may be light yellow with a green tint. As it ages, the green will disappear and the yellow will become deeper, even amber. Similarly, a rosé wine will become a darker pink and may exhibit peach or orange hues as it ages. A young red wine may be have a purple-red hue which becomes ruby-red when it matures.

Although a brown colour doesn’t always indicate a wine is faulty, in most cases, it does.



Lastly, we’ll evaluate the viscosity of the wine which is one of my favourite steps.

Swirl the wine in your glass and hold it against a white surface. Watch as the wine legs flow down the inside of the glass. If they move quickly, the wine is lower in alcohol content. If they are thicker and move slowly, the wine is higher in alcohol content.


We hope you’ll enjoy our new blog series on wine tasting and that the First S has you intrigued to learn more.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels