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An Exercise to Improve Skills in the Tasting of Red Wine

Yann's Guide
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TastingLet’s practice a little with the comparative tasting of red wine.

For this tasting, we start by buying two reds of rather different styles: a Bandol and Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuit.

We will take 3 tasting steps: visual analysis, olfactory analysis and gustatory analysis.

For each of these steps, we will compare each of the two wines.
The 2 wines must be sampled simultaneously.

Recall the various steps in the diagram below.

How to taste

Are you ready? Let’s get to work!

The visual analysis

The color intensity:

A strong dense red characterizes the Bandol wine, while the Burgundy has less marked color intensity.

Remember that Burgundy is a single varietal wine, made exclusively from Pinot Noir, which provides some particular pigments: the base wines made from this grape are generally rather pale in color.

If you compare with the Bandol, you see a much greater color intensity of the wine. Note that the Bandol is made from different grapes such as the Mourvedre (which represents at least 50% of the blend), complemented by the Syrah and Cinsault. Soils are quite diverse and the Mourvedre is often planted on terraces, these terraces are south facing, located beside the sea and sunshine. It allows better grape maturity and more redness.

In a blind tasting, we say that wine usually ranges from lighter to darker from the North to the South.


Now observe the shades of color by tilting the glass on a white surface. On the edge of the glass, the main characteristics should show signs of age (the evolution of the wine): is it more purple , which is characteristic of a young wine ? Or somewhat tawny, brown, characteristic of a mature, evolved wine? This observation depends on the vintages you have chosen for the tasting and their evolution.


Also called flow, or capillary qualities.

Compare the formation of tears on two glasses of wine. Which do you think is fatter? You will see tears slower and heavier on the Bandol. Remember that these tears are characteristic of alcohol content of your wine. I recommend you read How to interpret the tears of wine.


Bandol, a “wine of the South » has alcohol content higher than your Burgundy.

Again, the sun plays a key role since it allows a good vine photosynthesis, so the grapes are rich in sugar … and sugar means alcohol! This also explains why some more favorable vintages from the sunniest locations give wines richer in alcohol in the same geographical area. This is one aspect of a vintage!

After visual analysis, we address the olfactory and gustatory analyses!

The olfactory analysis

Here we will make aromatic distinctions for each of the wines.

One wine has a nose of generous, dark fruit. You will also find game as part of this aroma . This is the Mourvedre grape present in the Bandol wine.

Perhaps you can also detect some spiciness as well?

In comparison with the Burgundy, aromas of red fruit and black dominate here: the raspberry notes, a hint of cherry evoking Pinot Noir, perhaps a small peppery side as well. Unlike Bandol, you will find some freshness in the aroma…. That can make you sense acidity stronger than the Bandol to a nose accustomed to alcohol.

Gustatory Analysis

A mineral freshness, rather fine tannins … With this acidity and the soft tannins you identify it with the first wine, Burgundy.

Bandol has a completely different taste profile. The acidity is less marked but you notice tannins are harder (more marked in the mouth) but also more fat (they persist longer in the mouth). Can you perceive the sensation of heat once the wine has been spit out? This is characteristic of alcohol; it brings out the body and creaminess in the mouth.

What are your thoughts on comparative tastings? Has it allowed you to advance in the art of tasting? I await your comments!

Related posts:

  1. How to Interpret Tears in Wine
  2. How to Easily Analyze the Tannins in Wine

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