Do first impressions matter?

Absolutely! Like with everything, first impressions matter.

If you were served a hazy, tawny, shaded glass of wine when you ordered a Sauvignon Blanc, you would be completely turned off! And rightfully so.


The first thing we notice with a bottle or glass of wine is the appearance. It can give you clues on what you can expect to smell or taste. The appearance of wine is assessed based on three components: Clarity, Color, and Intensity.


We expect a “clear” and translucent glass of wine.

If a wine has the appearance of small amounts of matter, sediment, or is cloudy it is referred to as “hazy.” A hazy appearance can be an indication of a faulty wine; however, there are some instances when this is not an accident.

Some producers believe that the clarification process can decrease a wine’s aroma, flavor, texture, color, or aging potential. Therefore, often high-quality wines are not fined or filtered and can have some degree of sediment or indication of haziness.

An example of a hazy wine is Pét-nat, short for pétillant naturel, a cloudy-style, lightly bubbly, sparkling wine. It can come in a range of colors and intensity, but it is consistently hazy in clarity. It is made using one of the oldest methods for making sparkling wine. This method is called méthode ancestrale, where the fermentation is finished in the bottle without additives or clarification.

Try: 2015 Ca’ dei Zago Col Fondo Prosecco, Veneto, Italy; 11% abv; $27


Often, we refer to wine being one of three colors: white, rosé, or red. However, the color of wine is far more complex and diverse. Refer to the diversity in the Colors of Wine illustration by Wine Folly.

A wine’s color can provide valuable information about the grape varietal, style, age, vintage, and/or quality.

A few tips:

  • White wine darkens as it ages.
  • Oxidation in wine causes it to turn brown.
  • For red wines, the lighter the color, the lighter the flavor profile (less tannin, body, and alcohol).
  • Red wines lose color as they age.
  • Rosé made in a pale color will often be less complex, less fruity, and drier than a brighter pink rosé.


The intensity of the color can be measured by tilting your glass at a 45-degree angle and then looking through the deepest area (or the “bowl”) over a white piece of paper (preferably with writing). How easily you can see through the bowl and read the words on the paper will determine the intensity of color (pale to deep).

 A few things to consider:

  • Some grape varietals are known for specific levels of intensity.
  • Tannins can amplify the color intensity.
  • Pigmentation is lost as wine ages.

Next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, spend a few minutes assessing the appearance.

Happy Tasting!

Questions? Email Stephanie at

Next up in this series:

Article 2: What can the “nose” tell me about the wine?

Article 3: What can the “palate” tell me about the wine?

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Roberts

Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified Sommelier, empowers people to drink better wine. Through unique and tailored wine experiences, she demystifies wine and all its complexities and teaches people how to recognize a wine’s journey from a grape in the vineyard to the wine in your glass.  

More about how to experience wine with Corks & Boards here or email Stephanie at


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