Red Wine Soup?

Saumur ChampignyIt’s hitting temperatures of nearly 30 degrees centigrade in Edinburgh today, temperatures that we haven’t experienced for quite a few years!

Mostly we’ll be looking for a more refreshing beverage, lighter white wines, crunchy roses, zesty cocktails or possibly a dry, tangy Fino Sherry. Reds struggle a little bit when it’s hot. Reds have less acidity then whites so lack that refreshing characteristic and if served too warm, can become “soupy”. In the heat the wine’s texture thickens, losing any freshness that  it might have had and can taste flat or stale. To avoid this keep your wines in a cool space, avoid direct sunshine and you could even pop them briefly into the fridge or an ice bucket, or add an ice cube or two. Maybe not if you’re opening full bodied, highly tannic wines, like Bordeaux or Petrus or Aussie Shiraz, but for lighter fruitier, less tannic wines this a great way to enjoy them in the warmer summer months. Don’t leave them too long in the fridge/ice bucket though, the perception of tannins can increase in chilled reds. The best reds to chill are those that are typically fruity with lowish levels of oak and alcohol eg Beaujolais-Villages, Valpolicella, Grenache and Saumur-Champigny (pictured) or any oak or tannin bitterness will overpower the fresh fruit.

Chilling red is common place in Spain and Australia during the heat of the summer, with the Spanish often adding Coke and ice to make sure it really does give them the refresh they need.

If you’re drinking out don’t be afraid to ask your bartender/sommelier to chill your red slightly, if they know they’re stuff, they’ll have already popped it in the fridge for you.


Using the WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT) can be a bit daunting at first but honestly, it’s there to help! There are many sensations that we experience when tasting wine and it can be difficult to put them all in the right order. Our sense of smell, taste and touch are all stimulated when wine tasting and the skill to recognise and characterise them, quickly and accurately need to be learned and developed.

This is what the SAT does.

It provides a framework for analysing a wine, allowing the taster to focus on the key characteristics of the wine in their glass, this helps the taster:

a) determine the style of the wine, is it dry, aromatic, fruity, oaked, unoaked, light-bodied, full-bodied

b) build a portfolio of tasting notes that will build the taster’s knowledge of the world’s wines

c) identify whether the wine is “fit for purpose” for example to serve by the glass in a bar without food or to serve with roast beef for Sunday lunch

d) write an accurate tasting note, for use on a restaurant wine list, for personal records or to help describing the wine to customers or friends

e) make an objective and unbiased judgement on the quality of the wine, is it an entry level wine, a premium level wine, or a fine wine

f) decide whether they like the wine on not

g) to pass the WSET Examination and achieve the qualification!

WSET Level 3 SAT Tasting Note
WSET Level 3 SAT Tasting Note

At Case Studies Wine School we use the SAT when tasting all our samples on both our classroom and online courses. By the end of the course students will have built a large portfolio of tasting notes (approx 40 for L2 and 80 for L3) of a range of wines and have an excellent understanding of the different styles of wines made around the world.

The examination is a 2 wine blind tasting where students are asked to write a tasting note for the wines that are presented to them. We offer a practical tutorial session where students are able to take mock exams to help them prepare.

Tardieu Laurent Cornas
Tardieu Laurent Cornas

Tasting is usually the bit that students most enjoy about a WSET course, The Tardieu Laurent Cornas was particularly well received when we tasted it during our Rhone class last week. It was a great opportunity to show students primary (blackberry), secondary (vanilla and toast and tertiary (prune, leather) characteristics found in older wines that were matured in oak and have had some bottle age.

Click here for a link to the WSET’s collection of Systematic Approach to Tastings:

WSET L2 Wines & Spirits

WSET L2 Spirits

WSET L3 Wines