A glass of really good wine has a captivating smell that can charm, intrigue, change and develop, conjuring up all sorts of enjoyable sensations. The wine’s flavour will follow naturally as our senses of smell and taste are interdependent and inseparable. The sensations will persist in a pleasing way once the wine has been swallowed. The best wines of all induce combinations of wonderfully evocative smells and tastes that you cannot find quite in the same way anywhere else. This is why some of us are prepared to pay more for them.
But when drinking rosé wines, which have fresh attractive, but relatively uncomplicated aroma, part of the pleasure of anticipation is in looking at the colour. Blueish pink of the cabernet-based Bordeaux Château Bel Air, pale salmon for the Côtes de Provence Domaine Houchart; deep rosier pink for the grapey Malumbres from Navarra and cherry-coloured Cerasuolo of Abruzzo; a mellow range pink in the sun-kissed Corsican Clos Columbu.
Colour can tell you a lot. Good wine should be bright and glint in the glass.Young Vintage Port will be deep, almost impenetrable purple, but I am suspicious of unnaturally deepcoloured wines from Burgundy or Bordeaux. Pinot noir of red Burgundy is naturally thin skinned and fairly pale. Clarets based on cabernet sauvignon will have deeper hue, but it should be possible for the light to shine through. Thick looking Clarets of the deepest purple tend to be overextracted and lacking finesse. The blackest wine I ever tasted, which came from Georgia, was also one of the nastiest.
Sebastian Payne MW
Chief wine buyer