THE ADVOCATE 377
VOL. 79 PART 3 MAY 2021
to expect from different wines. For white wines, it again depends on the
variety. Chardonnay can be anything from pale yellow to a golden straw
colour. Rieslings are generally very pale yellow, though with age again go
more golden. Pinot Gris/Grigio varies from almost clear to pale yellow, and
Sauvignon Blanc can range from straw yellow to almost pale green.
In all cases, the wine should be clear and not cloudy or hazy. Haziness is
a sign that the wine may be tainted.
Next, you examine the point at the top of the wine where it meets the
glass. This is called the “meniscus” and is the rim of a wine in the glass. It
is also simply called “rim colour”. The colour intensity of the meniscus
shows the wine’s concentration, the age of the wine and the wine’s richness
of body. In a red wine, if it is bright red or pink, it indicates a young wine.
If it is brick red or amber or brownish, it indicates an older and perhaps
somewhat oxidized wine. In a white wine, a white or clear meniscus indicates
a young wine, while a somewhat golden or amber one tells you the
wine is older or, again, oxidized. Thus, a recent vintage with indications of
amber-coloured oxidation warns you about the wine. In an older wine, you
can expect the flavour profile to show that age.
Finally, a word about wine “legs”. Personally, at least with wine, I am not
much of a leg man. The “legs” are oily streams of liquid that run down the
inside of your glass when you swirl or take a sip. Contrary to popular belief,
legs are not a sign of wine quality but simply an indication of the presence
of higher alcohol content. More reliable indicators of quality are the wine’s
“nose” and taste.
I am very much a nose man with my wine. Witty aside averted here – Ed.
As we all learned in elementary school biology, of the five senses, smell is
the most acute, approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than the sense of
taste. As a result, what is termed “flavour” is influenced roughly by seventyfive
per cent smell and twenty-five per cent taste. That is why foods seem
to taste bland or less distinctive when the nose is blocked by a cold. Consequently,
a good sniff of a wine is crucial to its enjoyment.
To do so fully, it is important to release the volatile elements of the wine.
This is done by swirling the wine to release more of the surface to the air.
If you are worried that you will splash the wine all over yourself—or worse,
your company—place the glass on the table and put your index and middle
fingers on either side of the bottom of the stem and rotate the glass gently
on the table. Another benefit of this method is that accomplishing it will at
least make you look like a wine expert.
Take a light sniff with your nose in the glass and note your first impressions.
Is it clean and fresh? Does it have intense aromas, or is it more neu-