If you like to indulge in the game of wine tasting with an oenologist or a knowledgeable wine merchant, you may have noticed that the professional always prepares the wine tasting order in advance. And for good reason, the order of service is very important. Let's get into the details.
When is the order of tasting important?
When we talk about wine tasting, we think of the oenological exercise that can be practiced with friends or family, in the tasting cellars of an estate, at a wine merchant, or even at home. But the order of service of the different bottles of wine is also important during other events, and in particular during a meal or an event (wedding, reception, etc.).
Indeed, wines served in a somewhat anarchic way can have an impact on the pleasures that you will be able to feel throughout the tasting, because the taste buds can quickly be saturated, and certain cuvées can spoil a good dish.
Thus, there are 5 major rules to be sure to serve your wines in the right order.
Rule n°1: start with light wines, to move towards powerful wines
Whether for a blind tasting , or to accompany a meal, it is essential to start the event with the lightest wines . Very often, we start with white wines and rosé wines, but it is quite possible to start with light red wines.
To understand the reason for this rule, keep in mind that tannins are often powerful in the mouth , and cause a chemical reaction in contact with proteins in saliva, which gives a rough sensation. If this can be very pleasant, the tannins also have the disadvantage of saturating the taste buds . So, when tasting the following wines, you will perceive the light aromas less well, if at all.
In this same logic of power, it is not advisable to serve a Grand Cru right away. The following wines could well pale in comparison to a wine of character.
Rule n°2: serve rosé wines and white wines first
We come back to the presence of tannins, which are very marked in red wine, very light in rosé wine, and totally absent in white wine. So, in order not to saturate the taste buds from the start of the event, it is better to keep the tannic red wines for the end of the meal .
You can then start with a white or a rosé , as their acidity and light aromas are much easier to perceive when the palate is still neutral.
Special case: this order can sometimes be turned upside down if you want to achieve the perfect food and wine pairing . It is therefore interesting to drink your mouth between each wine, taking a small sip of the new cuvée in the mouth before moving on to the tasting.
Rule n°3: young wines give priority to old wines
Many wine lovers are of the opinion to start with young wines , to keep the complexity of red wines last. It would indeed be logical to start with simple wines, to move towards complex wines.
But not all opinions are unanimous, and some believe that older vintages are sometimes better when tasted before younger wines. To explain this, you have to understand that as you age, the tannins in a red wine melt, become less powerful, and therefore saturate the taste buds much less. It is therefore possible to drink old vintages earlier in the meal than a young, full-bodied wine.
Rule n°4: dry wines first, sweet wines last
Another basic rule of wine service must take into account the sugar content of the cuvée. Indeed, sweet wines (sweet wines, sweet wines and sweet wines) are so sweet that the palate is saturated from the first sip. It is difficult, thereafter, to precisely feel the aromas of light fruits.
Better, then, to respect an ascending order in sugar content, and start with dry wines , with a nice freshness and acidity, to finish with sweet wines .
Rule n°5: sparkling wines before still wines
Sparkling wines have the advantage of being fresh on the palate and light. They are therefore readily served as an aperitif , where they open the ball with lightness, freshness and simplicity. But here again, you have to keep the other rules in mind, avoiding serving this type of light wine with a characterful cheese platter or foie gras, for example, or offering a very sweet sparkling wine as a starter.
Example of wine tasting
Nothing more concrete than an example, so here is an interesting order of service during a meal :
- Start with dry white wines or sparkling wines, to take advantage of their freshness (Sancerre...);
- Continue with fatter white wines (viognier...);
- Continue with rosé wines , respecting the order of power (Côtes de Provence...);
- Then move on to light, low tannin and fruity red wines (gamay, pinot noir...);
- Continue with increasingly powerful red wines (Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux, etc.);
- Finish with sweet wines or sweet wines (late harvest, Sauternes...).
Blind tasting: an exercise that challenges you
If you are a wine lover and want to deepen your knowledge in the field, perhaps you would be interested in a blind tasting . This exercise consists of tasting several cuvées without knowing the slightest information.
It is then up to you to guess the grape variety, the wine-growing region, the vintage, the aromas... All this by observing the color of the wine, and by carrying out the olfactory analysis and the taste examination. This is a fun and educational way to challenge yourself.
The order of wine tasting is of major importance, and will guarantee the success of your meal. You now know the 5 rules to apply, all you have to do is find the best bottles of wine for your event.