How to: Sparkling Wine Tasting at Home
February 11, 2022
Written By Coravin
Coravin Sparkling™ helps us enjoy more sparkling wines without the pressure to finish the bottle in one sitting. It opens up a whole new realm of side-by-side tasting opportunities allowing us to compare our favorite Champagne next to this Christian Madl Sekt or this Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils Cremant du Jura Rosé.
When tasting wine, still or sparkling, there are some things to keep in mind: look, smell, and taste.
Look: Very simply, when looking at a wine, you’re observing color, opacity, and viscosity. The color tells you the wine’s type (red, white, rosé, etc.) and hints at the wine’s age, fermentation process, and whether it’s filtered or unfiltered. The opacity and viscosity (wine legs) hints at the wine’s alcohol content.
Smell: When it comes to smell, there is no right answer. That’s to say you’ll only be able to identify aromas that your nose has encountered before. Look for primary aromas (from the grapes), secondary aromas (from the winemaking process), and tertiary aromas (from the aging process). Smelling wine also helps you check if there’s any cork taint and could help you determine the varietal.
Taste: When wine hits your mouth, you can make notes about the taste (salty, sweet, sour, bitter), tannin structure, and length. The tannin structure tells us something about the alcohol level and ripeness of the wine. Then, some wines will linger on the palette longer than others – some dry up quickly while others take a few minutes to leave you.
How to taste sparkling wine
When it comes to tasting sparkling wines, there are a few other elements to consider as you taste:
Sound: First, sound. When the cork is properly released, you should hear a soft “hiss” after that signature “pop.” You’ll also hear the effervescence of the bubbles as the wine hits the glass.
Bubbles: To add to look, check the size and quantity of the bubbles. Smaller bubbles generally means better quality, but more is an indication of the secondary fermentation second fermentation process – tank method, ancestral method, traditional method, or soda method.
Color: Don’t be fooled. Color isn’t always an indicator of the grape varieties used to make sparkling wines. For example, red grapes like Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are commonly used to make golden-colored sparkling wines and Champagne.
Tips for tasting sparkling wines side by side
There are so many sparkling wines to try. Here’s a list of ones to seek out in your local wine shop or watch for in the Coravin Wine Shop:
When it comes to organizing a side-by-side sparkling wine tasting, there are some tips and tricks to keep in mind. Many of these apply to tasting still wines as well:
Temperature matters: Serve your sparkling wines between 38°F and 45°F (3°C to 7°C). An ice bucket with ice and water is a great way to control the temperature throughout your tasting.
Use the same glass style: To compare look and effervescence, you’d benefit from using the same glass style. You choose if that’s a flute, tulip glass, or white wine glass (wide tulip is our favorite).
Open bottles at the same time: Only open the bottles when you’re ready to taste. This will help you observe the bubble
Get the right snacks: Salty foods are best for sparkling wine tastings. Arrange a salt-forward cheese board with salted nuts, sea salt crackers, and hard, salty cheeses to satisfy the taste buds as you taste through bubbly.
Group wines by theme: Think of it like a science experiment that needs a control variant. Either taste light-colored sparkling wines from different regions (Champagne, Spain, Germany, Italy) side-by-side, or choose a style or region (like Champagne or Italy) and taste those side-by-side.
Share your sparkling wine tastings with us on social, @coravin. With Coravin Sparkling™, side-by-side sparkling tastings can be a regular occurrence without the pressure to finish the bottle or make a big occasion out of it. Shop Sparkling today.
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The Coravin Wine Shop offers a broad selection of time-honored labels as well as a collection of highly sought after and allocated bottles curated by in house wine experts and resident sommeliers.