Can a Wine Change Character in your Glass?
17th November 2020
Now, this is such a very big topic and open to many discussions and points of view. So for this article I am going to write from my personal point of view having tasted many thousands of wines and experiencing wines that have given me a host of difference experiences.
I have tasted wines that many times have improved immensely in the glass both from either warming or from breathing. For me this is frequently the case for vintage traditional method produced sparkling wines and especially with Champagne. Many times I will consider a wine to be better tasting and certainly more pleasurable with the aromas it offers when it approaches room temperature. Though importantly I will say that this is not the case with many other wines and in fact it can have the opposite effect at times.
“Some may say that, just like a leopard with its spots, a wine can not change its character in the glass, though as you add length to the time you taste and experience wines, you will start to disagree and indeed say that the wine within the botte can be a whole lot more than simply one aroma and one taste.” Christopher Walkey
“The phrase “a leopard never changes its spots” means that it’s impossible for one to change their character, even if they will try very hard. The expression, sometimes also used as “a leopard can’t change its spots”, is used to explain the idea that no one can change their innate nature.” Source GingerSoftware.com
There are many external influences on how a wine performs when poured from the style of glass you use to the temperature it is served. It can also change it’s character during the time from pouring to finishing drinking.
Wine can be very different to many people depending on their palates and also their tasting experiences / preferences. Some wines can start off brilliantly when you have the first sip and then a few moments later you will question what got you so excited. Other times you may taste a wine that isn’t all that expressive and then come back to it a few moments later and think you have mixed up your glass with another.
Most times, when I have noted a variation of taste experiences from a wine, it is from a larger bowl wine glass whereas usually a smaller bowl or flute style then the wine will usually remain the same and only reduce in quality when it warms.
Other influences on a wine in your glass can be:
- Aromas / Smells
- Quality, style and size of glass
- Your mindset
- Company you are sharing
- Time of day / freshness of your palate
I did not want the usual suspect and a vintage Champagne, this time I simply picked out randomly a decent Bronze Medal winning traditional method sparkling wine. I chose a rosé from Slovenia and the winery Karlovcek with their Jernejeva Penina Rose – A wine I had yet to taste so was very unfamiliar with.
Tasting notes: “First taste is quite a pleasing and subtle expression of dried raspberry, pink floral in the palate. A second sip not long after suddenly show a drier expression with a lean towards salty pastry and dried pink grapefruit. As a few moments pass in the larger bowl glass the wine is settled and showing tiny streams of bubbles, it expresses more of a pink blossom aroma and flavours are a relaxed berry fruit, green gage and floral character.”
This wine certainly improved with the length of time it was in the glass. Though great and refreshing well chilled, it for me improved as it breathed and as the edge of the chill faded. As the wine approached room temperature the wine performed not to my liking becoming a lot more dry in character with an unpleasant sour expression tightening the palate.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.