The following steps in
tasting wines are commonly used in a blind tasting format
and commonly known in the wine community as a “deductive
reasoning tasting format”
After tasting and
confirming the sight and smell, an initial and final
conclusion may be determined.
Quality wines have a
good balance between the acids, tannins, fruit and alcohol.
A good quality of wine will linger on the palate after it
has been swallowed.
Wines require a proper
balance of acid to enable the wine to linger.
Some Useful Descriptive Terms
1. The glass must have an ample bowl for tilting and
swirling. 2. Swirling the wine releases the aromas
technically known as
alderhydes and esters.
3. The glass must be clean to determine the viscosity or
thickness of the wine. 4. Sight,
swirl, smell, sip, savor
Appearance (Sight) The appearance of wine should indicate:
wines should be clear)
- If a wine is cloudy, it may contain sediment
that needs to
- If a wine is cloudy the wine may be “tainted”.
- The brightness may indicate if a wine has been filtered.
- Brightness is described as: Star bright - Day bright – Bright -
Color - White wine will range from colorless to gold
- A yellow or gold color may indicate an older wine or it may
indicate the wine is from a warm climate
- A greenish hue may indicate a young wine or a wine from a
- Red wines range from a light cherry/purple to a deep
ruby/garnet and perhaps even brown.
- Young wines may be purple
- Older wines may be deeper red or even brown
- Color intensity (concentration) indicates fuller body
Rim variation - Rim variation may indicate the age of the wine.
- Rim variation is determined by tilting the glass at an angle,
change of wine color from center to outer rim
- Little rim variation from the center of the glass to the rim
may indicate a young wine
- Older wines show a change of color (maybe even orange or
brown developing at the rim for red wines.)
Gas - Gas will be present in sparkling wines
- The concentration of bubbles may indicate quality
- Gas may be present in still wines, indicating a young wine or
wine that is bad.
Viscosity - Viscosity is
determined by the “legs” formed on the glass
- Thick legs may indicate a higher sugar, alcohol content
- Light legs (sheeting down the glass) may indicate low alcohol
Smell/Nose/Bouquet/Aroma - Scientific research suggests
there are over 10,000 different
- The olfactory bulb location is in proximity to the part of the
brain that stores memory, making the sense of smell the
strongest trigger to our memories.
- Swirling the wine releases esters and aldehydes
- First is to check for a fault
- TCA is the most common fault. Smell is moldy or damp
cardboard, faulty cork.
- TeCA caused by climate conditions of the cellar.
- Correct smell in wine should be similar to smells such as
vegetative, nutty, caramel, woody,
earthy, chemical, pungent, microbiological, floral, and spicy. - Wood aging may be detected
- Wines from Sonoma and Napa will be fruit forward
- If the smell warms your nose, it may indicate high alcohol
- The quality of the wine may be detected by variety of aromas,
Taste/Sip & Savor Although we have 5000 taste buds, we can only
detect the following flavors:
Sweetness (in the tip of
Saltiness (on the front right and
front left sides of the tongue)
Sourness (on the back right and
back left sides of the tongue)
Bitterness (on the back of the
Taste confirms the appearance and bouquet - Sweetness/dryness is the first assessment.
Terms to describe the dryness (acid) or sweetness (sugar) of
wine: Bone dry – dry – off dry –
sweet – very sweet
- Acidity and tannins are the next assessment. Low – medium – high
Next, the fruit, minerals, wood and
spices are assessed (confirmation of the aromas)
The final step is assessing the finish of the wine. - The length of time that the flavor remains on the
the wine has been consumed is considered the finish.
– Long finish may indicate a higher quality
– Acid is needed to create the finish.
Wines from Sonoma and Napa tend to be
riper, higher in oak, higher in alcohol moderate in acidity and
clean (not earthy).
Wine Tasting &
“Miss Jane” Nickles
“Miss Jane” Nickles is the author of "Wine Speak 101", and a wine
writer for "The Texas Wine and Food Gourmet", and "Eat and Drink
Jane is a certified specialist of wine, recognized by the society of
wine educators. "Miss Jane," as her students call her, is the
Sommelier Instructor for the Texas Culinary Academy, and she
presents her popular wine seminars at Wine Bars, Restaurants, and
Culinary Festivals throughout the country.