Section I: The Fundamentals of Wine Chapter 4: Tasting Wines
Introduction Tasting (sensory evaluation) is the process of using the effect a wine makes on one’s sense to review and describe a wine. Making the proper match of a wine for the meal enhances the flavors of both.
Sensory Evaluation: How the Senses Respond to Wine Sight Smell Taste Touch
The Sense of Sight, Appearance • Color of wine • Hue (shade) • Depth (intensity) • Clarity of wine • Brilliant (clear of any defects) • Dull (turbid and cloudy)
The Sense of Smell, Aroma For a compound to have an aroma, it first must be volatile, or able to evaporate and be carried by air. Wine has as many as 800 volatile compounds. Descriptive analysis = isolating and identifying the different aromas present We categorize scent by other smells we know.
The Sense of Taste, Flavor • Most people identify only four flavors: • Bitter • Salty • Sweet • Sour • Senses of taste and smell work together to allow more experiences than the basic four flavors.
The Sense of Touch, Texture • Mouthfeel = tactile sensations produced when drinking a glass of wine. • Nerve endings detect: • Temperature • Viscosity • Effervescence • Alcohol • Astringency • Perception of a wine’s flavor can also be influenced by its appearance
The Proper Setting for a Tasting An environment with minimum of distractions Comfortable room temperature Good lighting No scents to distract from the tasting Opinions discussed following the flight
Presenting the Wines Basic white linen tablecloth Proper glassware matches wine being poured. Water should always be available. Food for keeping the taster’s palette fresh
Other Considerations Blind tastings eliminate bias. Be honest when expressing opinions. Follow the basic flight rules.
Basic Flight Rules White wines should be evaluated before red wines. Dry wines should be evaluated before sweet wines. Light-bodied wines should be evaluated before full-bodied wines. Young wines should be evaluated before older wines. Table wines should be evaluated before dessert or fortified wines.
Proper Tasting Techniques • There is a systematic procedure a taster uses for the sensory evaluation of a group of wines. • Wines are appraised in this order: • Appearance • Aroma • Taste and mouthfeel
Evaluation by Sight • View the clarity by holding it up to a light source. • Study wine to see if there is any: • Turbidity or haze • Particulate matter • In red wine color, observe: • Hue • Depth • In sparkling wines, observe: • Color • Size and quantity of bubbles
Evaluation of Aroma • Swirl glass to concentrate wine’s aroma. • Inhale deeply and note: • What aromas are present • What types of smells are detected • Whether they are pleasant or unpleasant • Keep observations to yourself to avoid influencing others.
Evaluation by Mouth • Sip wine immediately after inhaling aroma. • Hold wine in mouth and examine its: • Acidity • Sweetness • Bitterness • Astringency • Any new flavors or aromas perceived • Appreciate the tactile sensations such as viscosity. • Appraise the overall balance. • Observe sensory qualities and record observations.
Difficulties in Evaluating Wine Individual sensitivities Definitions Preferences/prejudices Fatigue
Qualities Typical of Good Wines Distinctive flavor Complexity Balance Intensity of flavor Quality of flavors
Interpreting Wine Ratings and Reviews • Methods of ranking • Wine competitions • Look for reviews with: • Honesty and consistency • Tastes in wine which match your own