As part of my gastronomy interest group, last week we participated in a cata de vinos. The word cata does not translate directly to the work “tasting.” A cata is more than a tasting, it is the analysis of what you are tasting from many different aspects. A cata involves more than what you experience in your taste buds.
Though Spain is no Italy, it also plays a huge role in the wine industry. Through my cata de vinos, I learned about the production of wine in Spain, how to drink wine properly (though many would say that there is no right way!), and what to drink with different foods. The wines that are produced in the northern part of Spain tend to be more acidic. Since it is colder in the northern part, the grapes that are grown in the north have less sugar. Contrastingly, the grapes that are grown in the south have more sugar, due to the heat. There are two main types of grapes that are grown in Spain: la garnacha and la tempranillo. In order to be considered wine in Spain, the drink must contain at least ten degrees of alcohol.
After learning about the background of the wine industry, we were able to catear four different types of wine: two red and two white. They were all young wines, because apparently young people tend to prefer young wines, so that is what we were served. The cata involves three steps: a visual test, a smell test, and a taste test.
In order to conduct the visual test, we compared the red wines to each other and the white wines to each other. We looked at the wines over a white piece of paper, so that we could spot the difference in color more easily. Of course, the color is different due to the type of grape that is used, however each wine has a different tint. There are a couple of factors that go into creating these different tints. For example, the older the wine the darker it gets. Also, the more the grape had contact with its skin, the more hue it will have.
Many wonder why people shake their wine, well this was answered in the cata. Shaking the wine releases its odor, making it easier for you to smell it. Some wines may have a barrel smell, due to the contact they had with it. Some may smell more like fruit or grass. There is not a set list of words to describe the smell of your wine, however you want to describe it goes!
The last test involves drinking! If you are someone that does not drink, you can taste the wine and spit it…but who does that? During the taste test you want to pay particular attention to the amount you are salivating. If you are salivating a lot, then this is a sour wine and if you salivate a little it is a sweeter wine. You should use white wine with greasier food and reds with food like rice and fish.
I also noticed that our wines were served in glasses that looked slightly different, I decided to ask about this, and it turns out that there is a purpose for this as well! White wine is usually served in wine glasses with smaller openings, because it requires less oxygen and because red wine needs more oxygen, it is served in glasses with larger openings. Also, red wines are usually served at room temperature, while white wines are served chilled.
I was very impressed with all there was and is to learn about wine. Learning about the industry and the drink itself made me develop more of an appreciation for it.