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How to Taste Bubbly like a Boss

01 September 2016
by Manon Colmant

Tasting bubbly

TASTING THE SPARKLE:

A JOURNEY OF ENDLESS SENSATIONS

So much of the excitement of drinking Champagne or Cap Classique is based on the moment when the cork escapes the bottle with a an elating POP, followed by an impressive display of effervescence. Youll be glad to know that tasting the sparkle itself is even more fascinating than this very moment- if you know how to do it passionately well.

All five of our senses should be involved if a complete bubbly tasting experience is desired. Each sense will be awakened and taken on a journey of pleasant stimulations with the experience of colour, sound, aroma, flavour and texture. The bubbles in sparkling wines will also add magic and new dimensions to the experience of the taster which are not found in still wines.

The imagination too gets awakened as we explore our creativity to find the right words to describe our experience and let our emotions express what we discover.

This guide will take you through the sensory discovery that is drinking Sparkling wines

•  THE SOUND

The experience

Bend your ear to the glass. Can you hear the soft crackling of the bubbles? That sound is the symphony created as a result of an estimated two million bubbles bursting at the surface, rising to a crescendo then diminishing by degrees to close on a note of peace and harmony. Excitement, completeness, tranquillity – a symphony in three movements that intensifies our tasting pleasure.

How to describe it

As the wine is poured into the glass and the effervescence whooshes into the glass, there is a crackling, fizzing sound . This sound can be described as the stirring of leaves in the wind or the rustling of silk, taffeta, lace. Perhaps, if you listen well enough, you might even hear the soothing sound of the ocean… The bubbles in your glassthen burst, hiss, chatter, babble, whisperand fade …

•  THE SIGHT

The experience

Turn your attention to the golden glow that radiates amongst a seemingly infinite spectacle of rising bubbles inside your glass. Watch the bubbles as they are born and then start their ascending journey, where they burst explosively, yet elegantly, and collect in a jostling ring at the surface.

How to describe it

The colour- A wide range of shades of gold and yellow can be witnessed depending on the wine, as well as varying shades of pinks for Rosé style bubblies. Here are a few examples which you can use to describe the colour in your glass:

Pale Gold | Green Gold | Grey Gold | Straw Yellow | Yellow Gold | Antique Gold

Coral Pink | Salmon Pink | Deep Pink

The glow-depending on the wine, a varying degree of brilliance, radiance and crystalline clarity can be observed. Is the wine limpid? Sparkling? Silky?

The bubbles-  Bubbly sparkles with life as it is poured.  There are certain degrees of effervescence, each one being an indication of a wine’s age or personality, keeping in mind the influence of the shape of the glass used for the tasting. The bubbles may be described as fine or medium-sized; steady, streaming or moving in groups; light and tiny; fast and furious, or slow and shy.

Bubbles whizz through the liquid like shooting stars, whirling and spiralling upwards, and then shatter into fragments of gold on the horizon…”

The mousse- Adjectives one ca use to describe the mousse: creamy, white, fine, enduring, lively, elegant, graceful, pale or frothy. The cordon formed by the mousse may be compared to a delicate string of pearls.

•  THE SCENT

The experience

It is truly incredible the range of aromatics which are developed in sparkling wine through the mere use of one single fruit…Grape juice itself is able to develop in such a way to create almost every pleasant aroma to the human scent existent on earth! Truly magical!

Though the aromas found in sparkling wines are distinct and plentiful, the initial effervescence can mask the full expression. The wine also needs time to open up once it has been poured into a glass so in order to appreciate the full aromatic potential of the bubbly, it is better to wait a few moments before taking the first inhale- a perfect opportunity to admire the appearance and sounds of the glass.

Once ready, the wine will release its first nose creating the immediate impression, followed by the second nose, a deeper, more complex, more precise expression. The aromas present in sparkling wines are inherently volatile, constantly evolving in the glass and brought to the surface by the bubbles. Each bubbly will develop its own particular range of aromas depending on grape variety, grape ripeness as well as style and age- making up a unique bouquet of aromatic sensations which express a wide range of characteristics from fruity and floral to nutty, earthy, yeasty as well as mineral, sweet and spicy. 

How to describe it

There exists an exciting repertoire of words and terminology to creatively and accurately express the aromas and scent sensations which you perceive. Here, we offer you a terminology guide to bring along to your next bubbly tasting experience. The aromas are a reflection of grape variety, style and age, the chart below (taken straight from the official Champagne website) will assist you in understanding this better!

Floral-   | Wild Rose | Lime Blossom | Orange Blossom | Violet | White Flowers

Fruity-   | Apple, Pear, Quince, Gooseberries

|Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, )

|Stone Fruits (Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots,)

 | Exotic Fruits (Mango, Banana, Lychee, Coconut,)

 | Red Fruits (Wild Berries, Cherries, Strawberries, Currants,)

| Dried Fruits ( Hazelnut, Raisin,, Dates, Dried Fig,)

Yeasty-|Brioche | Fresh Bread | Toast

Spice-     |Cinnamon | Ginger Bread | Vanilla | Aniseed

Earthy-   | Truffle | Mineral | Wood | Chalk | Tobacco

Green-     | Mint | Fresh Cut Grass | Fern | Moss | Forest

Epicurean-| Honey | Coffee | Cacao | Toffee

 

THE TASTE

The palate should be surprisingly but pleasantly sparkling, instantly seductive and velvety. The taste should have an underlying fruitiness, with a lingering fragrance that causes you to meditate silently and at length on the wines aromatic qualities long after you put down your glass

- Louis Bohre, an early 20th century Champagne explorer

The experience

The moment when the wine enters the mouth is the high point of the tasting, especially for an experienced and attentive taster who will be looking for such qualities as intensity, completeness, sharpness, richness and harmony. Sparkling wine reveals its personality best on the palate, where there will be a dominant impression of character. Dare to roll the wine around your mouth for a few moments. Experience the sensations in all the different areas of your mouth. Let it take you on a journey of flavour sensations.

How to describe it

Ideally the bubbly you are tasting will offer you a harmonious medley of flavours which will linger in your palate and leave you with a feeling of pure joy. The same amazing array of aromas which can be found on the nose can also be tasted. However, the aromas which you depict on the nose will often vary from those you can taste. Which ones can you taste?

Close your eyes and try to describe the feeling in your mouth. What personality does the wine have? What sensations is it giving you?

Some words that might help you describe this are…

| Lively | Fresh | Harmonious | Rich | Delicate | Complex | Long

| Fleshy | Creamy | Musky | Toasty

THE FEEL

The experience

As you bring the glass closer to your nose to inhale its aromas, the magic of the bubbles will gently awaken your sense of touch, with the explosion of each bubble caressing your upper lip.  And then, as the sparkle enters your mouth, the bubbles will fill your mouth with a sensation that will bring life to your entire being.

How to describe it

Are the bubblesgentle, feeling like crystalline pearls on your palate?

Are they wild, sprightly, explosive?

Is the mouthfeel fresh and clean? Creamy? Opulent?

Colmant Sec Reserve NV
Colmant Brut Plaisir NV
Colmant Brut Reserve NV
Colmant Brut Rosé NV
Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV
Tribaut Brut Origine
Tribaut Blanc de Chardonnay NV
Tribaut Instant Gourmand NV
Tribaut Rosé NV
Tribaut Millesime 2009
Follet-Ramillon Vintage Brut 2008
Tribaut Cuvee Rene NV
Mailly Brut Reserve NV
Mailly Extra Brut NV
Mailly L'Intemporelle 2010
Mailly Les Echansons 2004
Follet-Ramillon Special Brut NV
Champagne Tribaut Brut Origine Half Bottle NV
Champagne Tribaut Brut Origine Magnum NV
Champagne Follet Brut Tradition Magnum NV
Champagne Tribaut Brut Origine Jeroboam NV
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