horse yawn from bobbisworld-dontchaknow.blogspot.comThough much of the emphasis of wine tasting is placed on scent and taste, appearance has an important part to play, too.  Like being able to tell the age of a horse by studying the appearance of its teeth (their shape, number of permanent teeth, angles of incidence, and disappearance of cups), visually evaluating a wine is equally informative.  A wine’s appearance allows one to estimate its actual age, quality, and purity.  Similar the four ways used to examine a horse’s teeth, there are things to look for when examining wine.

red wine Image courtesty of wikipedia

Among them are color, clarity, brightness.  A wine’s color changes as the wine ages.  Older reds appear somewhat tawny, while younger reds are more robust, sometimes with a subtle hint of blue.  Sweet white wines initially look crisply golden, but take on more brown over time.  Dry whites appear very clear at birth, but don a darker, amber shade with age. As a given, the clearer a wine appears the fewer deposits or particles it has.  (Clear wines are ideal, and decanting is not as necessary--though often recommended, depending on the circumstances.)  Lastly, the brightness of a wine denotes its energy and acidity.  A shockingly bright wine is a young wine, a somewhat-bright wine has reached a nice maturity, and a lackluster wine has passed its prime.  While you shouldn’t “look a gift horse in the mouth,” examining your wine for visual clues about its age and personality is not a bad idea.