Chateauneuf du Pape - Wines - Domaine André Brunel - Les Cailloux

How to recognize a good wine at tasting ?

Wine Tasting

Always the same dilemma for a meal with friends, or event to celebrate, or a meal in a good restaurant. We often propose to choose and bring a bottle of wine, and each time, the same question : How to choose a good wine without making a mistake? 

The factthat wine is an important part of our culture imposes an additional pressure on us when it comes to choosing and tasting, do we have the competence to do it properly ? At André Brunel estate, we do our best to teach you how to recognize a good wine.

Choosing according to the bottle (label & price)

To recognize a good wine. To choose a wine in the best conditions, one of them is to meet the producers at a wine fair ( that of the indépendents for exemple) at festivals or of course, directly at the estate.
You can also go to a wine merchant shop, he will give you expert and specialized advice.

But, what to do when you are in front of a well stocked supermarket shelf, which bottle shall we choose ?
Two éléments can help you to make a good choice : the price and the label.

On this label, you can see the name of the producer or of the estate (a well known castle for example ?) The area and the variety of grapes (all this will give you a few information about the kind of wine but also the appellation, some are safe bets (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Saint-Emilion for example) as to the quality of the wine.

Think of choosing an AOC or a bottle where you can read « bottled at the estate » these mentions imply strict specifications, a great respect for wine-growing techniques and respect for tradition.

The mention of medals obtained is also an element to be taken into account.

Choosing a wine according to the appellation and the kind of wine when you are at the restaurant

If you can’t see the bottles and the labels since you are at the restaurant, you have always the possibility of asking advice from the waiter or the sommelier.

Here are some information to help you : the appellation of course but also the year (to spot the good vintages).

And above all, choose a wine which will match with the dish :

  • Cod and asparagus match perfectly with a Sancerre.
  • A Châteauneuf-du-Pape will match with tasty meats such as lamb served with mushrooms.
  • For a goat cheese dish choose a light red (a southern one for instance).
  • For dessert a light white or a honeyed wine.

The elements to recognize a good wine

A subtle balance must be found to be sure that the wine is good. Learning how to taste is a true skill.

Moreover, there are training courses or workshops, or meeting with producers at their estates to learn how to taste wine correctly . 

As for all jobs, tasting requires practice : It’s by exercising your palate that you become more and more sure of yourself when judging the quality of a wine.

The visual 

How can we see that a wine is good ?

It’s a wine with a beautiful color , with intense and shining shades.

You be the judge : hold your glass and observe the color of the wine.

  • A wine of a very dark red like brick indicates an old vintage. Lighter purple colors, on the contrary, indicate a younger wine.
  • As to a white wine, the more the color is golden, the more the wine has aged , whereas transparency characterizes a young wine.

You can also swire gently the wine in the glass, the more or less oily « tears » of the wine give information on the quality and the specificities of the wine.

The nose (the smell) 

Smelling a wine is essential: the wine that has breathed for several hours releases a maximum of aromas.

It’s up to you to recognize the floral, mineral. Vegetal notes immediately or to smell directly the power of tannin which will refer to a full bodied wine.

The second more subtle smell must make you find more precise aromas such as spices , fruit, wood or earth.

A good wine has complex aromas: you can’t smell all of them in one time. It shows the quality of the wine.

The taste 

When you taste a wine, to know it’s a good one, take a small sip and keep it in your mouth to soak it well (like a mouth wash) ! Like this you will be able to smell as many aromas as possible (5 maximum, otherwise you have to practice retro olfaction.

In mouth, you must feel balance between complexity and pleasure, strengh & subtlely,  lightness and smoothness.

The length in the mouth is decisive (we call this caudalies), do the aromas remain the same at the begining and at the end ? 


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Published : 2023-03-07

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