Before evaluating wine , it is important to take a few preventative steps so that our impression of the wine is not altered by any outside influences. The ideal tasting room should be odor free. Smells of ; perfume, food and tobacco should not be present. And to top it of the room should be well lit. Our Palates should also be clean, wine crackers are thus used to remove any lingering tastes. Some things beyond our control may also impair our ability to taste such as ; fatigue, colds, and hay fever.
The main reason we look at the appearance is to notice if it has faults caused by ; bad storage, if it is aged in bad conditions, if it has cork taint. We do not want it to be out-of-condition, the most common flaw in these wines is that they will be dull in appearance and have a hint of brown( A brown color isn’t always bad as it appears in healthy old wines). Haziness can denote a fault or simply mean that the wine was not filtered before bottling.
Make note that the color of the wine may tell us a few things about it. The picture above is very similar to my own wine chart. We usually look at the wine to see if it is clear or hazy , make note of any impurities, and then describe the color of the wine and how intense it is. Certain wines stand out because of their color ; for an example we can tell Malbec apart from other reds because it has a hint of purple once it is swirled. Finally you can also give your glass a little swirl and see how slowly or rapidly the legs run down the glass . This helps you see how thick the body of the wine is.
Nose/ or smelling the wine
The second step in evaluating wine is to smell the wine. So give the glass a good swirl so that it may release as many aroma molecules as possible. First you have to make a note on the condition of the nose. Is it clean? The most common fault you can discover when smelling is cork taint which can strip a wine of its natural aroma’s and replace it with a wet basement smell. Other funky smells could show you that the wine is out-of-condition. Some of these aromas make the smell dull and stale , and have oxidative aromas such as ; toffee, caramel , or sherry. These smells don’t always denote a fault as some of these wines are supposed to smell this way like Oloroso Sherry .
Now if the wine is healthy we make a note of how intense the aroma is , are they soft , pronounced, or medium ? Then we describe the smell which can be fairly subjective due to the fact that most people have different experiences. Some descriptions are fancy but every single smell means a different thing and some aromas are unique to certain wines , or certain regions, or show you that the wine has been aged in an oak barrel. These are useful to help us identify wines for an example only red blends from Bordeaux smell like roses and Savignon Blanc can smell like cat piss. The chart above shows a wide variety of aromas in wine and chunks them up in to categories because my teacher is encouraging us to be specific. Some of these smells are very funky such as the skunk or rotten eggs. If you smell something funky in a wine chances are you are not imagining it and trust your instinct.
According to some tasting is also subjective, since we all have different sensitivities to the components. Different parts of the mouth have different sensitivities to sweetness, acidity and tannin ( dryness) . These are the factors that we evaluate when tasting;
Sweetness- as it is an indicator of how much sugar the wine has. wines from very ripe grapes can have slightly sweet flavors. Red wines have almost no sugar and are described as dry. White wines that are slightly sweet are described as off-dry. Wines that professional wine testers describe as sweet are incredibly alcoholic as sugar and alcohol go hand in hand and taste somewhat like cough syrup.
Acidity - this is the same acidity that we know from lemons. Acidic wines make our mouth water and the presence of acid makes wine vibrant and refreshing much like lemonade. It is present in all wines except for sherry which is somewhat flat. White wines are typically more acidic than reds and some varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are more acidic than other whites. Acidity is important because it helps balance out the sweetness of the wine. You see the lower the acid the higher the sweetness.
Tannin- tannin is what makes a strong black tea bitter and astringent. Tannin is present in the grape skins and their presence in a wine depends on the amount of contact they had with the wine during the making of it. White wines don’t have any tannin but Red wines do. Thick skinned wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvingnon and Syrah are really tannic especially the first variety. High levels of soft ripe tanins indicate that it is a hot climate wine and astringent tannins from unripe grapes can dry your mouth horribly . Soft ripe tannins however contribute to the viscosity of the wine
Body- This describes the mouth feel of the wine and it’s viscosity, and it is affected by the other components of the wine.
Length- is called a finish how long do the flavors linger in the mouth after wards . A complex finish is an indicator of quality.
Proceed to write down at least three flavors that you got from the wine try to be as specific , instead of just saying red fruit flavors try to narrow it down to more specific flavors such as strawberry , cherry , cranberry. After describing the wine we make a quick assessment of the quality. Did you like the wine? Do you dislike certain aspects of it? Also take in to consideration that some wines are just awful by themselves because they are too tannic and need a complimentary steak in order to be enjoyed.