Wine Tasting

Index

  1. Definition of Wine Tasting
  2. Etiquette
  3. Wine Flights
  4. Vertical And Horizontal Tasting
  5. Blind tasting
  6. Serving temperature
  7. Order of tasting
  8. The wine tasting process—The Five S’s
  9. Terminology used to describe the important factors:
  10. Using Your Eyes to Assess the Wine’s Visual Characteristics
  11. Using Your Sense of Smell to Assess the Wine’s Aromas
  12. About Aroma
  13. The Source of Bouquet
  14. The Three Classes of Aromas
  15. Scoring wine

Definition of wine tasting—the practice and pleasure of evaluating wine by smell, taste and feel.

Etiquette: Be respectful. If you must spit, be discrete. At the same token, over-indulged drinking of wine may impair your judgment.

Wine Flights—Regularly tasted in isolation, a wine’s qualities are more objectively assessed when performed alongside several other wines. This is known as (tasting) flight. Glasses used in tasting flights are usually smaller than normal wine glasses allowing tasters to compare and contrast different wines.

Vertical and horizontal tasting— wine tasting events that are arranged to highlight differences between similar wines:
Horizontal tasting—wines selected strictly for their vintage
Vertical tasting—wines selected from a single winery

Blind tasting—Wine is served from a black wine glass (where the bottle and label are hidden) to mask the color of the wine to ensure impartial judgment of a wine.

Serving temperature—White wines should be served at between 16 and 20 °C (60 and 68 °F). Below this temperature range the bouquet and flavor may be suppressed. Red wines are served at a temperature from 21.1 °C (70 °F) to room temperature, as is commonly recommended. Wine properly stored at 12.7 °C (55 °F) and at 80% humidity requires time for the wine to reach proper temperature before serving.

Order of tasting—Because heavy or sweet wines can dominate lighter, drier wines and skew the taster’s assessment, wines should be tasted in the following order

  1. Sparkling Wines
  2. Light Whites
  3. Heavy Whites
  4. Roses
  5. Light Red
  6. Heavy Reds
  7. Sweet Wines

The basic steps in wine tasting—The Five S’s

  • See (look for its clarity and color)
  • Swirl (to release the “nose”)
  • Sniff (to identify the aroma)
  • Sip (to taste)
  • Savor (mindful of the complex smells and flavors)

Terminology used to describe the important factors:

  1. Appearance (looking at it through a clear glass)
  2. Aroma, bouquet, fragrance (smelling it in the glass)
  3. Sensations (to the tongue, in mouth)
  4. Flavor
  5. Finish (aftertaste)
  6. Complexity
  7. Character
  8. Stage of suitability for aging or drinking
  9. Faults, its unsuitability
  10. Varietal character —a specific kind of wine’s inherent grape characteristics.
  11. Complexity—the combination of many subtleties such as flavors.
  12. Expressiveness—the quality when a wine’s aromas and flavors are clearly defined.
  13. Integration—the components of the wine are in balance with each other. A well-balanced wine reaches “harmonious fusion.”
  14. Connectedness—a wine’s tie with the land from which its grapes were grown.

Using Your Eyes to Assess the Wine’s Visual Characteristics

  1. Hold the glass by the stem at an angle over a white background and observe the wine’s color and the different levels of shade. Note the edges—the finer the wine, the clearer the edges.
  2. Hold the glass vertically against the light to check the wine’s clarity and for any bubbles.
  3. View from above to see how dense the wine is against the bottom of the glass.
  4. Swirl the wine gently and make note of the legs (streaks) that run down the inside of the glass.
  5. Make a tasting note:
  • What is its color?
  • What is its tone and shade?
  • What is its body? (clarity, viscosity, and legs)

Using Your Sense of Smell to Assess the Wine’s Aromas

A large part of the appreciation and enjoyment of wine comes through your nose. With time and experience, your ability to differentiate aromas and flavors will be enhanced. Different wines bring to mind familiar hints of aromas and flavors such as different kinds of flowers, coffee, chocolate, perfumes, nuts, mushrooms, grasses, wood, and food or sensations such as a rainy day. The facility to identify different aromas developed mindfully will boost your enjoyment of wine (and food) that improves with time.

About Aroma—Among other factors, the aromatic experience of the wine is in its bouquet. On the down side, evaluating a wine’s bouquet can reveal faults including yeast contagion, cork taint, and the oxidizing effects of heat.
The nose (bouquet, aroma) of a wine is the key factor to determine the flavor perceived by one’s taste buds, which involve a mixture of textures, flavors, and overall structure. Key aspects of this fuller experience (length and finish, or aftertaste)

The Source of Bouquet—Different aromas develop with the different states of the wine process:

•       the composition of the soil where grapes are grown
•       the container, oak or stainless steel, where the wine is aged

The Three Classes of Aromas:

Primary: The obvious, such as fruity or herbal or earthy.
Secondary: The complex, the product of fermented yeasts that increases in richness with age.
Tercery: Elegant and complex bouquets derived during the aging and bottled stages.

Scoring wine—Different connoisseur wine tasters have their own preference of judging, but, in general, wines are given scores either by judging it as a whole or by weighting these aspects to determine the ratio of each aspect (in percentages):

  1. Appearance
  2. Nose
  3. Palate

Above all, wine is to be a source of pleasure. Your experience should be a relaxed one, not challenging or tiresome. From ancient times, it has been the nectar of the gods and a gift to man. Live, love, enjoy.