I intend to offer some views on the analysis of wine. You can indeed enjoy wine or not. However, whenever you have a glass of wine in your hands, it becomes fundamental to understand its virtues and faults, starting from its colour.

The path of the wine enthusiast is not an easy one, not as simple as one might think. The enthusiast usually follows a way that leads him to prefer, in the beginning, slightly woody wines with moderately coarse bubbles and structured wines instead of refined and elegant wines.

I am sure of this because it has been my path too.

I have come to prefer non-woody, delicate and neat wines, wines that I define as poetic. Later on, we will have the opportunity to make appropriate investigations on this matter. I could write many things, but it is premature to pen about them now before starting a brief journey in the wine tasting technique.

However, I would like to clarify that, regarding the world of bubbles, I love bubbles, but I do not appreciate prosecco. I have never liked it, and I will never like it.

In general, I love champagne, even if there are many types of champagne worse than some Franciacorta and Trento Doc wines. I certainly enjoy fine and not coarse bubbles.

Sometimes, it happens that the bubbles in my mouth are exquisite, but as soon as they reach my stomach, they have the effect of fireworks. Usually, this phenomenon occurs when they add carbon dioxide to the wine (the Charmat), a method used in producing prosecco. On the other hand, with the Champenois method, bubbles form naturally, thanks to the yeasts.

It is unthinkable that a bottle of sparkling wine can leave the manufacturing company, sold for two or three euros.

How can you even think that this is a good quality wine?

Italy produces large numbers of sparkling wine bottles greater than France. What does this mean? What is more important, quality or quantity? Wine producers generally lean towards numbers and profit rather than quality. I can understand it. The whole world wants prosecco, and I gladly let them drink it. I suffer from gastric reflux, and I love bubbles.

Consequently, I drink exquisite and high-quality sparkling wine, not the ones that hurt my stomach.

I also know people who offer prosecco at home and prefer to drink champagne when guests of other people. It is only about the money!

Usually, if I do not like wine, I do not drink it. I prefer water instead.

Wine should be a thrill. When you are in front of an unfamiliar bottle, you feel the emotion of the unknown, of the novelty. However, when you are about to drink a bottle of wine you already remember because you recall its taste, aromas and flavours, you savour the delight of rediscovering it. You appreciate and enjoy it yet again.

These are the sensations that entice and capture me.

I am afraid we will start the analysis of wine next time because my pen is misleading me.

Everyone expresses opinions on wine with more or less competence and more or less honesty.

When I need to examine a wine, I completely isolate myself from the world and fully concentrate on three crucial characteristics: visual, olfactory and gustatory.

It is not easy to make good wines. Different blends resemble each other in some respects, both olfactory and gustatory.

In 2006, at Christie’s auction house in London, I was holding a vertical tasting (i.e. several vintages) of “Tignanello” and “Solaia” wines by Marchesi Antinori. I was with Albiera Antinori and Michael Broadbent, who passed away a few months ago, the exceptional connoisseur of vintage wines of 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000.

On that occasion, I expressed my thoughts on the vines: Sangiovese, Pinot Nero and Nebbiolo, affirming that all three had, wood permitting, generally, similarities in colour, not so intense; in the nose, fruity and floral, namely cherry, plum, raspberry and violet; with a fruity and floral finish taste.

Typically, in these three vines, the tannins are a little rebellious, not exactly silky. However, I must say that, in recent years, wines have become full-bodied. I remember that Michael looked at me, interested and amazed at these statements, and told me: “Paolo, you’re right, I never thought about it”. Unique experiences, unique emotions. Only those who love wine can comprehend the meaning of all this.

Countless experiences have occurred to me during my wine tasting journeys. Often odd things happen to me, and I get unexpected insights.

A few years ago, before becoming a sommelier, when attending the second level course of the Italian Sommelier Association, I visited Burgundy with a group of Tuscan sommeliers. We stopped at the various Domaines in Pernand Vergelesses, at the company “Bonneau du Martray” in Burgundy. The owner, Jean Charles Le Bault de la Morinìere, welcomed us and served several vintages of the Corton Charlemagne white wine. He always showed the bottles of the served wine until he offered the last wine inside jugs, without revealing its vintage year, indeed asking us which vintage was that wine.

 I remember sensing the dominant smell of Brussels sprouts, which is why he had poured the wine into jugs to make it oxygenate. I took pen and paper and wrote “1985”, folded the sheet and handed it to him. I was the only one to take the risk. Jean Charles read the note and turned white, startled because it was precisely the 1985 vintage.

I had never tasted that wine in that vintage, but my sixth sense led me to write that date down. Fortune? Sensitivity? I have certainly not forgotten and will not forget the smell of that wine in the 1985 vintage.

Wine is love, magic and unquestionably a pleasure. I promise that with my next article, I will start writing about the visual examination of wine.


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