Monday, February 3, 2014

Deductive Tasting - Using descriptors to understand Style, Character and Quality of a wine

Drinking wine is certainly a pleasure. But a lot of that depends on the settings or surroundings of the tasting and the tasters understanding of the wine. Generally tasting shouldn’t be just carried out anywhere or… at any rate. I mean if you are a wine lover you’ll enjoy the finer points of it.  There is no universal tasting experience. So, this deductive tasting is based upon the Court of Master Sommeliers format that uses descriptors to understand a wines style, character and quality; and for this article we’ll assume that the appropriate glass is being used and all that.
Let’s start -

Sight or Eye – it’s your first contact with the wine, your first examination of the wine

Clarity - is the wine clear, medium clear, slightly cloudy or just cloudy

Brightness – is the wine dull, hazy, bright, day bright, star bright or brilliant

Color – The reds are purple/ruby, red garnet, yellow or brown. The whites are clear, green, straw, yellow, gold or brown

Concentration – low, medium or high… are there intense flavors

Rim Variation – color of rim or edge - to determine age

Is there evidence of Gas?

Is there sediment or particles?

Viscosity – low, medium or high      

Nose or Smell- the inspection is the second assessment in which the sampled wine obligated to undergo

Flaws – Do you smell corkiness, H2S(Hydrogen Sulfide), volatile acidity, brett(which has a taste of rubber), oxidation, etc…

Intensity-Is the wine delicate, moderate or powerful?

Age Assessment- Is it young or does it show vinosity?

Fruit – What is the primary fruit and the secondary fruit…

Non Fruit Aromas – Flowers, spices, herbs botrytis or other aromas

Earthiness- Mineral, chalk, wet stones, mushroom, gravel, barnyard, musty, forrest floor

Wood – Old vs New; French vs American – Large vs Barrique(small size) – ie. Flavor notes that are common descriptions of wines exposed to wood include caramel, cream, smoke, spice and vanilla. Chardonnay is a variety that has very distinct flavor profiles when fermented in oak that include coconut, cinnamon and cloves notes. The "toastiness" of the barrel can bring out varying degrees of mocha and toffee notes in red wine. - Cloves, Cinnamon(French); Coconut, Dill(American)

Palate or Taste, – take it in with a little air for it to circulate in entire mouth and think about its components, swish it around a bit; sometimes it can feel like you can chew the wine…seriously!

Sweetness – Is it Bone dry, dry, off-dry, sweet, very sweet

Body – light, light to medium, medium, medium to full, full

Fruit – confirm and affirm the nose

Earthiness - confirm the nose

Wood – confirm and check the nose

Tannin – low, medium, medium plus, or high(does it grip)

Alcohol - low, medium, medium plus, or high

Acidity - low, medium, medium plus, or high

Finish – short finish, short to medium, medium, medium to long or long finish and length

Complexity - low, medium, medium plus, or high; the way a lot of variables interact with each other, creating entirely new flavors. Generally greater levels of complexity are usually much better quality wines. Can you detect such things as barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation, or any other remarkable or unusual characteristics…

Initial Conclusion

Is it Old World or New World?

Climate – Cool, Moderate or Warm

Grape Variety or Blend

Age Range – 1-3 years; 5-10 years or more than 10 years…


Final Conclusion

Grape Variety or Blend


Quality level



Remember, the ability to taste wine improves with practice, especially if you have a passion for it…


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