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The colour of the wine: A feast for the eyesCertainly, the colour of the wine does not have an influence on the taste. However, it relishly mirrors information. Whether straw yellow, lemon yellow or golden yellow, whether black/red, cherry red or brick red – the colour may provide information about age, vine variety and even eventually about the quality of the wine. Daylight and a bright background – for example a blank sheet of paper – better accentuate the colour of the wine. 

All Grapes – red and white – contain natural dyestuffs. Differences depend on grape cultivar and degree of ripeness. The vine cutting, the fertilisation and the subsequent processing, affect the colour as well as the treatment in the wine cellar and finally the length of time and the kind of storage. Any change of colour is a process, which is also reflected in taste and odour. Indeed, substantiated knowledge is needed about wine chemistry including extensive knowledge about technical and chemical possibilities, in order to be able to make accurate statements about the quality of the wine by means of the colour.

In general: white wines darken with growing age, whereas red wines become brighter by and by and tend towards brown tones.A dark colour does not always indicate that it is a high quality wine and less colour intensive red wines are not categorised as mediocre, because the colour is not as impressive. 

It is more due the vine variety, as there are cultivars like for example the Vernatsch (South Tirol), which makes rather bright wines, regardless of how long it is being fermented. Whereas Cabernet Sauvignon is a vine variety, which makes dark and colour intensive red wines. Moreover, it also depends on the degree of grape ripeness and the fermentation method.

By the way, the alcohol, arising from fermentation, releases the colour pigments from the grape peels and lets them fade into the wine.

Sense of smell and sense of taste, collaborate closely: If you are willing to try and compare wine in the course of a wine tasting , it is advisable, to eliminate all  “ disturbing“ smells: for instance nicotine smell, garlic, food smells, intensive perfume fragrances, sucking on cough drops  etc., as all this affects your scent sensation. The transient scent molecules are perceived best, by taking up the scent of the wine with a slow, deep breath. Thus, it may spread out in the nose. The following approach is advisable: 

The about one-third wine filled glass is being swayed in a circular manner. Thus, the scent molecules release from the fluid. Then, one lowers the nose into the glass and breathes in the “scent haze“ – the flavours saturated, air volume above the wine level. The proficient nose might now be able to draw a number of conclusions: vine variety, country, and method of fermentation.

Less proficient noses should focus on aromatic groups, such as the scent of fresh fruits: peach aroma with the Riesling, but also banana, melon, pineapple to lemon with white wines. Like with fruits, the sugar is an aroma carrier, therefore dry wines smell slightly weaker. The fruit flavours with red wines remind of berry fruits, cherries or plums. More aromatic groups: blossoms, leaves, grasses, vegetable varieties to tree variety or spices.  All of these scent nuances are referred to as the flower or bouquet.

Wine does not smell like grapes (exceptfor moscatello)! However, smellable flavours are such as black currant, gooseberry, grass, vanilla, paprika, but also cardboard and paraffin.

Why? Wine contains the same volatile components as these fruits (500 aromatic components were already ascertained); these originate partly from the grape, the fermentation process or the maturity process.

The most ostensible + most fruity = primary flavours originate from the grapes and especially from the peels of the berry and the underneath situated pulp.

The secondary flavours develop from the fermentation process, e.g. barmy, butter, freshly sawed oak wood, toast, and spices.

The tertiary flavours develop from the maturity process, i.e. through complicated chemical and physical changes. They are hard to describe, but bring the highest enjoyment.

Faulty tones:
Musty, dull, mouldy = bad corks (worldwide in every 20th bottle). Gets worse, the longer the wine stays in the glass and has contact with air. Addle eggs, burnt-down matches, blocked spout, overly cooked cabbage = sulphur.

The bouquet is the most subtile component of the wine. It denotes the composition of various scents that a ripe wine effuses by air contact. The spectrum of flavours then includes, besides the fruity and herbal nuances, also information about the soil, the vintage, the kind of removal and the age of the wine.

White wines may for example reveal notes of honey, straw, bread crust, vanilla or cedar wood.

In contrast, the spectrum of flavours of red wines is more complex: It contains spice tones like pepper, sandalwood, cinnamon or pinks, but also chocolate, coffee, smoke or tree root. Even less pleasant flavours may be incorporated into the diversity of the spectrum – petrol, shellac, or even “worn out car tire“. Although, certainly no one has ever sampled it...

Let us not forget: It is about connotations. When such unpleasant scents rule the wine’s bouquet, it is faulty and unenjoyable. If however, finest traces of it are imbedded in a complex spectrum of aroma, they may absolutely represent a delicate enrichment of the diversity. You may as well slurp whilst drinking. The oxygen lets the volatile components rise from the mouth to the nasal cavity.

With a wine testing you may take the first sip with a slurping noise.

Now you will experience, if the taste corresponds with the previous smell. The better the wine, the more harmonic appears the taster the interaction between scent and taste. The better the wine, the longer and more intense the taste remains in the mouth and continues to have an effect after swallowing.

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