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Wine Tasting January 2006 Outline Evaluating and describing wine How wine is made Grape varieties Wine-growing regions Resources Evaluating Wine – Objective Qualities Varietal character How well a wine presents the aromas and flavors inherent to the grapes from which it was made

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wine tasting

Wine Tasting

January 2006

  • Evaluating and describing wine
  • How wine is made
  • Grape varieties
  • Wine-growing regions
  • Resources
evaluating wine objective qualities
Evaluating Wine – Objective Qualities
  • Varietal character
    • How well a wine presents the aromas and flavors inherent to the grapes from which it was made
  • Integration
    • How well all the components of wine are balanced and complementary to each other
  • Expressiveness
    • Well-defined and clearly projected aromas and flavors
  • Complexity
    • That indescribable something that makes wine more art than beverage
  • Connectedness
    • The cultural connection a wine has to the place it was grown
components of wine
Components of Wine
  • Alcohol
    • Comes from fermentation; affects body, texture, aroma, & flavor
    • May be sensed as a “hot” smell or burning sensation in the nose
  • Acidity
    • Comes from natural acid in the grape; may be sensed as tartness
    • Wines lacking acidity taste dull, flat or flabby and do not age well
  • Tannin
    • Comes from seeds, skins and stems; adds “backbone” and “character” to the wine; is a natural preservative
    • In overabundance, wine tastes harsh or bitter
  • Fruitiness
    • Propensity of wine to display fruity aromas and flavors
  • Sugar (sweetness/dryness)
    • Depends on how much of the grape’s original sugar content was converted to alcohol
    • Not the same as fruitiness!
evaluating wine
Evaluating Wine
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Sight
evaluating wine smell
Evaluating Wine - Smell
  • Much of taste is smell, so getting a good whiff is important
    • Aerate the wine by swirling it in the glass
    • Stick your nose in the glass and inhale
  • Called the nose, aroma, or bouquet
    • Aroma traditionally refers to grape-associated smells
    • Bouquet refers to other smells (e.g. oak, vanilla, nutty or buttery)
evaluating wine taste
Evaluating Wine - Taste
  • Initial taste
    • The first impression of a wine on your tongue
    • Take a sip, don’t swallow yet
  • Taste
    • Swirl the wine around in your mouth, draw in some air
    • Evaluate body & texture as well as flavor and balance
  • Aftertaste
    • The flavors and aromas that last after swallowing the wine
    • Evaluate length of finish (the longer the better) as well as flavor
  • Spit or Swallow…?
evaluating wine9
Evaluating Wine
  • Body
    • Light, medium, or full? (think about the difference between skim milk, whole milk, and cream)
  • Texture
    • How does the wine feel in your mouth (e.g. soft, sharp, smooth)?
    • If you had to describe the wine as a fabric, what would it be?
  • Flavor
    • What specific components can you taste? It may help to run through lists of choices.
  • Balance
    • Is the wine overwhelmed by any components (alcohol, acidity, tannin, fruitiness, sugar)?
  • Length
    • How long do the flavors and aromas linger after swallowing?
evaluating wine sight
Evaluating Wine - Sight
  • Color
    • Hold glass down & at 45 degree angle against a white backdrop
    • Is a clue to age (whites darken, reds lighten w/ age)
    • Is not a clue to flavor intensity
    • For white wines, also look for clarity
  • Legs
    • Swirl the wine in the glass & note viscosity of droplets which form & run down glass
    • Indicates body & possibly alcohol content and/or sweetness
making white wine
Making White Wine
  • Grapes are picked
  • Grapes are crushed (stems may or may not be removed)
  • Grapes are pressed, skins removed, and placed in tank
  • Yeast may be added, and fermentation begins
making white wine cont
Making White Wine (cont.)
  • When fermentation ends, wine may be left in contact with lees (spent yeast)
  • Wine is racked
  • Possibly cold stabilized
  • Possibly put into barrels to age
  • Possibly filtered
  • Wine is bottled
making red wine
Making Red Wine
  • Grapes are picked
  • Grapes are crushed (stems may or may not be removed)
  • Grapes, juice, skins and seeds are put in a tank
  • Yeast may be added, and fermentation begins
making red wines cont
Making Red Wines (cont.)
  • “Cap” is pushed down
  • Wine is drained (first run) and then pressed (first press) off skins after fermentation ends
  • Wine is put in barrels to age
  • Periodically racked
  • Possibly filtered
  • Wine is bottled
  • Oak
    • Used in fermentation, aging, both, or neither
    • Provides vanilla and oak(!) flavors
advances in winemaking
Advances in Winemaking
  • Stainless steel tanks
  • Screw top?
white wine grapes
White Wine Grapes
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Other: Viognier, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, Muscat
red wine grapes
Red Wine Grapes
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah/Shiraz
  • Other: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Malbec, Pinotage, Gamay
major growing regions
Major Growing Regions
  • France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire, Provence, Rhone
  • Germany: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Pfalz, Rheinhessen
  • Italy: Piedmont, Tuscany, The Veneto
  • Spain: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Jerez, Penedes, Rias Baixas
  • Portugal
  • Austria, Hungary
  • Greece
  • North America: California, New York, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Virginia
  • South America: Chile, Argentina
  • Australia, New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil
white wine chardonnay
White Wine: Chardonnay
  • Originally and most famously from Burgundy in France as Chablis. Also grown in most wine producing countries world wide.
  • Blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to produce Champagne
  • AKA:Feinburgunder and Morillon

or Aubaine, Auvernat, Beaunois,

Epinette Blanche, Petite Sainte-Marie

Melon Blanc and Weisser Clevner

Flavors: fresh, fruity, melon, peach,

oak, flinty, very dry, lemon, nutty,

hint of tropical fruit, and buttery

white wine s millon
White Wine: Sémillon
  • botrytis cinera, or "noble rot".
  • Sweet or dry
  • Tempered by Sauvignon Blanc which add acidity and liveliness wines.
  • Found all over the world but especially in Bordeaux in France and the Hunter Valley in Australia
  • Forms heavy bunches that can reach high alcohol levels.

Flavors: lemony, beeswax, lanolin or banana, buxom, full-blown wine of generous proportions

white wine sauvignon blanc
White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
  • Geography: France, New World, especially New Zealand.
  • Often mixed with Sémillon in dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux.
  • Californian winemakers tend to minimise the tart, crisp characteristics of European Sauvignon Blanc by ensuring that the grapes are very ripe before harvesting and then ageing them in new oak
  • Chile produces softer styles.
  • and fruitier and fig-like.

Flavors: Sharp, tangy, gooseberry, smoky grassy, crisp, light, nettles, elderflower asparagus and cat pee.

white wine chenin blanc
White Wine: Chenin Blanc
  • Home is the Loire Valley in France. Also grown often in the US.
  • Sometimes affected by ''Noble Rot,'' and used for making dessert style wines
  • Mainly used as a varietal

grape (not mixed)

  • A.K.A. Pineau de la Loire

and Blanc d'Anjou

Flavors: Possesses extraordinary flavour, with contrasts of honey, guava, quince with hints of light floral fruitiness. Highly acidic. Light, fruity, unoaked to rich

red wine cabernet sauvignon
Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Famous for its hardiness
  • Grows extremely easily, therefore needs

to be pruned quite severely and hedged

during the summer months

  • Grown everywhere but expecially in


  • Often mixed with Shiraz, Merlot and

Cabernet Franc.

  • Ages really well.

Flavors: distinctive blackcurranty flavor mint, cedar, truffles, plums, full-bodied, and tannin. “Brash”

red wine merlot
Red Wine: Merlot
  • Grown mainly in Southern France, North East Italy, Eastern Europe and New World, especially California.
  • Used to soften Cabernet Sauvignon based wines
  • Subtle, soft and velvety. Lower in tannic bitterness higher in alcohol, and faster to mature than Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Ages very well

Flavors: Juicy, fruity flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, mint,

complex texture, Purple, and full-


red wine pinot noir
Red Wine: Pinot Noir
  • Home is Burgundy, France.
  • Does not travel well. Outside Burgundy, with a few exceptions, lacks colour and depth. There are some successful Californian Pinot Noirs.
  • Varies from complex and silky to

plain and insipid

  • Used (without skins) as a white

ingredient in Champagne

  • Also known as Spätburgunder in

Germany and Pinot Nero in Italy

Flavors: Predominantly raspberry & strawberry, with a hint of game

red wine syrah shiraz
Red Wine: Syrah/Shiraz
  • This grape is grown in France and California as Syrah wine, and in Australia as Shiraz. In France, it is associated with the Rhone Valley and Hermitage red wines.
  • Although used for blending in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is capable of fine quality wine as a varietal

Flavors: minerally, blueberry, Intense, rich, tannic, velvety (texture) spicy, Intense and complex sweet fruit flavored, particularly blackberry and raspberry, with a peppery overtone. At its best in full-bodied, intense, deep colored wines