Using more technical terminology, wine tasting could be defined as an organoleptic or sensory analysis of wine. In everyday language, we can say that it is the appreciation, through SIGHT, AROMA AND TASTE of a wine’s qualities, following a methodology to help us.
Following the more simple definition, we can appreciate three basic sensory stages that we’ll follow when conducting a tasting:
1- Test of the visual aspect (SIGHT): color, transparency, brightness , intensity and pigment shades. In sparkling wines (Cava, Champagne, etc.) we must also observe the carbonic gas or aspect, and the intensity of the bubbles.
2- Test of aromas (AROMA/SCENT): identifying scent families (floral, fruity, herbal, toasty, spicy, etc.) assessment of cleanliness, complexity and intensity.
3- Identification and analysis of in mouth sensations (TASTE): acidity, sweet impressions induced by sugars and alcohol, body, balance, persistence of aromas in palate and aftertaste.
To conduct a correct wine tasting we should, if possible, have the best available conditions:
- Do it better in the morning (before lunch).
- Have appropriate materials and utensils (decanters, glasses, etc.).
- Do it in a room with good lighting and ventilation.
- Have good environmental temperature in the room (between 20-22º C. 68-71º F.) and as aseptic as possible, without noise and smells that could distort our perception.
- We should be relaxed and focused, and not talking during the wine tasting, leaving our comments for the end.
- Finally, we should not taste more than 10 samples and we should not swallow the wine.
Once these initial conditions are taken into account, we have to conduct the tasting following certain steps or basic techniques that will allow us to sharpen our perception about the wine we are tasting.
This technique could be summarized in eight steps:
- Bring the glass to the nose without shaking the wine (still glass).
- Determine aspects of: intensity, openness and nature of the aroma.
- Shake the wine and smell it again.
- Identification of aromas and their intensity.
- Pour a little wine in the mouth and move it with the tongue for 4 seconds.
- Conduct a slight bubbling (exalt aromas and possible defects).
- Spit the wine.
- Describe the wine.
Mainly, ordinary mortals, as neophytes and mere amateurs, or wine lovers, we can’t expect to reach, at least initially, the levels of appreciation and knowledge of the enologist or professional sommelier, so we should focus on conducting hedonistic tastings, in which our pleasure comes to play, describing positive or negative sensations that the wine produces for us. Sensations we can synthesize even poetically. At this point our smell and taste memory is very important.
To facilitate and progress in our appreciations, when assessing a particular wine, and in order to acquire independence and knowledge to be able to identify its variety, we should be methodical and orderly. And the best way to do this is to keep a FILE with all our observations.
Finally, you can download a standard model of wine tasting observations FILE by clicking HERE