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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 97, June 2011   
The Tools of the TasterThe Tools of the Taster Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 96, May 2011 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 98, Summer 2011

The Tools of the Taster

Wine sensorial tasting is a task requiring the use of many tools and attitudes in order to ensure the reliability of the evaluation

 The scene is usual: a wine is poured in a glass and then starts an analytical process which, despite having different goals, it however aims to the goal of defining whether we like that wine or not, if it meets our taste, our expectations, our approval. It is commonly known, sensorial tasting of a wine - or any other beverage or food - has many goals, from the simple personal pleasure to the critical-analytical evaluation in order to determine its correspondence to a quality or typical model. In any case, despite of the goals, the practice of tasting requires proper tools - or supposed to be proper according to the taster or the circumstance - in order to ensure the good achievement of the goal we want. Tasting tools are generally represented by tangible and physical objects. Indeed, this activity requires the use of other “tools” as well, having nothing in common with the physical world.


 

 Tasting a wine - and the same is true for any food or beverage - does not mean to simply pour it in a glass, then observing, smelling, tasting. These acts, which certainly are fundamental, represent just a small part of the process making the sensorial evaluation of wine. The result of sensorial tasting is in fact determined by a series of factors and elements, each of them being indispensable and fundamental at the same way. The glass seems to be the main tool with which a tasting is done, of course the most important tangible tool. The shape of the glass is fundamental for the correct and proper evaluation of wine's organoleptic qualities, not only the shape, but also the material with which it was made from. Having no decorations, the glass must be transparent and colorless in order to not affect wine appearance, while allowing its proper observation, from clearness to color and its nuances.

 Moreover, the shape of the glass is fundamental for the perception of wine aromas - as a result of a precise geometric ratio between volume and surface of contact - as well as affecting the initial impact on taste and its development. We will not focus on the physical and mechanical qualities of a glass, as this subject was covered many times in our pages. The goal of this article is to consider the other aspects affecting sensorial tasting, in particular the ones having no connection with the “physical world”, the ones about inner attitude and specific qualities of the taster. If the glass is very important for the proper appreciation of wine, likewise it is the mood of the taster, the experience, concentration and culture, the relation of the taster with a glass of wine.

 Among factors associated to the physics of tasting, we should also mention the fundamental role of temperature at which a wine is being tasted. This factor - as it is commonly known - has the property of affecting the sensorial perception of a beverage or food, by accentuating or attenuating both aromas and flavors. As an examples, it is enough to remember that low temperatures attenuate the development - and therefore the perception - of aromas, as well as the perception of negative aromas and faults, whereas high temperatures tend to excessively develop alcohol volatility and, in general terms, to make the aromatic profile of the wine less elegant. Temperature strongly affects the perception of flavors. As an example, high temperatures make tannins less astringent, whereas low temperatures tend to exalt their aggressiveness and harshness. The role of temperature in sensorial tasting, just like glasses, has been covered in past issues of our magazine.


Glass, pen and block note: useful
tools for the taster
Glass, pen and block note: useful tools for the taster

 Sensorial tasting is not expressed by the accuracy and precision of tangible and physical tools. The practice of sensorial tasting, which is mainly based on the listening of stimuli caused by chemical, physiological and - last but not the least - emotional phenomena, requires tools and conditions which are mainly associated to the inner expression of the taster. Inner conditions and predisposition - something no physical tool can express - however representing an important value, maybe the one having the highest value. Among the main elements belonging to this category we certainly have respect. Respect for wine, its history, its land, its grapes, its personality and - important as well - respect for the one who made that wine, fruit of a passion, of the interpretation and a job done with commitment. It is too simple to judge with the pretension of passing an ultimate and indisputable verdict without having tried to understand first. it is too simple, as well as useless.

 The lack of respect, and the world of wine review is full of these cases, frequently brings to the expression of purely presumptuous opinions, to believe one has the right to demolish or exalt the job of others by simply expressing an opinion. This does mean to not respect others and, in particular, to believe one can be in the stupid position of the one thinking to be superior than others - and no one is like that - convinced his or her thought is absolute and unquestionable. The opinion of who tastes and reviews wines certainly is not absolute, it certainly is the fruit of a professional competence, but it however does not express everyone's opinion. In case a taster does not like a wine, this does not mean it is not good, it means the person who tasted it did not like it. And this is different from denigrating the job and passion of others just because it does not meet our ideas or understanding. Of course, there is the right to express opinions about a wine, but we cannot believe this will be agreed, or agreeable, by all, considered as an unquestionable and final verdict.

 Another fundamental factor is time. We cannot expect to judge a wine in a reliable way in few seconds or in few minutes. There are tasters who say they evaluate more than one hundred wines a day, other say to go even beyond this figure. It is supposed these tasters do many things in the course of their day - like everyone of us, after all - and if we suppose the time they dedicate to tasting is an average of ten hours a day, this means tasting ten wines per hour, a wine every six minutes, with no breaks. Can you possibly believe you can express a reliable judgment in just six minutes? In case this would be possible, we should also consider the huge impact of halo effect and of natural and physiological tiredness of senses when they are stimulated for a long time with no proper breaks. There are wines which can open up in few seconds - and sometimes they make good surprises in case one has the patience to listen them for a long time - while other wines are more shy and humble, they need more time to tell their story. With wine is never wise to be in a hurry.

 With wine is required the predisposition to listening, the curiosity of getting to know the one in you have in front, with its qualities and its faults. In a glass of wine you will never find a colored liquid only, result of the fermentation of grape juice. When you uncork a bottle and you pour its content in a glass, you are not just pouring some wine, you are pouring history, the tale of a whole season, of sun and rain, of efforts and hopes, the renewed relationship between man and land, between man and vine. «Wine is the song of the earth upwards the sky» said Luigi Veronelli. In these words is concentrated all the strength of wine, a beverage having a strong meaning for the history of man and his relationship with earth, his land. Also for this reason, the tasting of a wine cannot be done in few minutes, just because in a wine - the one you are having in your glass - there is more than a beverage fruit of the fermentation of grape juice.

 Moreover, sensorial tasting is a practice requiring commitment and concentration, conditions which can also be associated - in a certain way - to the respect we owe to wine, its territory and to the one who made it. If you taste a wine superficially, you cannot expect to know that wine - or, even worse, to express an opinion - in a reliable and concrete way. It is like believing to know someone very well after having talked or being in company of this person for just few minutes, even worse, while looking elsewhere or talking on the phone. Tasting is a total exercise completely involving a taster, it does not want superficial behavior, or even worse, a haughty attitude. You should always have a curious attitude, with the will of wishing to get to know something new, with no prejudices, while allowing the wine to tell its story from the beginning to the end.

 On this regard, it should be said there are wines - just like persons - showing impressive talent and quality, which can fascinate the one listening to it, which can use the right words since the beginning of the conversation, in order to positively impress the one who is listening to it. Indeed, this is just another reason for paying more attention and spending more time to the tasting of wine, in order to “force” it to talk longer, and then finding out if what it says is true or it is just a disappointing fiction. The same is true for the wines appearing as “shy”, those which do not open up in a minute and need more time in order to be “confident” and to trust the one who wants to listen to its story. Moreover, our mood strongly affects our will and predisposition to listening. This is true with persons as well as with wine. When we are in a bad mood, our predisposition to constructive listening is very compromised and therefore we should avoid tasting a wine with a critical goal or for studying.

 In order to become a good taster, you have to continuously taste, you have to practice a lot, with commitment, passion and concentration. There is no other way. The more you taste, the better those indispensable qualities making a remarkable difference: memory and experience. These two qualities are indispensable for understanding a wine, they allow to discern and understand real quality from false quality, or - at least - which seems to be so. You recognize a good wine as such for the fact you tasted good wines; therefore it is very important to taste bad wines as well. Of course, there is also personal taste, but objective quality can be evaluated only in case you use comparative parameters, based on past experiences. Memory, another fundamental factor, allows the comparison with wines belonging to the same territory or type in order to define their correspondence to a typicality. A smell or a taste have the power to recall to the mind situations, moments and experiences. In case of wine, this recalls to the mind other wines tasted in the past, while activating that useful process of comparison and learning.

 As already said, tasting a wine does not mean to just pour it in a glass and to analyze it with our senses. In a wine there is also the history of a territory, of a culture, the expression of the vine in a specific place. These factors are indivisible from wine. If you really want to understand a wine, it is fundamental to understand the territory from which it originates, just because every territory is a world on its own and to which is added the important job of man and his way to interpret that territory and its grapes. For this reason, no wine is equal to any other one, despite there are so many similar wines, not because of territory's fault, but because of fashions followed for marketing reasons. You should always remember when you are in front of a glass, you are not tasting a wine only, you are tasting a territory and the expression of a specific moment and season which, as such, are unrepeatable and unique. Just because every wine is unique and unrepeatable, you should consider this concept as one of the main tools of the taster. If you really want to understand. And understanding requires, first of all, respect.

 






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 97, June 2011   
The Tools of the TasterThe Tools of the Taster Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 96, May 2011 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 98, Summer 2011

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Teresa Manara Chardonnay 2009, Cantele (Apulia, Italy)
Teresa Manara Chardonnay 2009
Cantele (Apulia, Italy)
Grapes: Chardonnay
Price: € 9.00 Score:
Teresa Manara Chardonnay shows a pale straw yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of apple, banana and hazelnut followed by aromas of pear, acacia, plum, hawthorn, grapefruit and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, banana and hazelnut. Teresa Manara Chardonnay ages in barrique for 8 months.
Food Match: Stewed fish, Stuffed pasta, Roasted white meat, Mushroom soups



Amativo 2008, Cantele (Apulia, Italy)
Amativo 2008
Cantele (Apulia, Italy)
Grapes: Primitivo (60%), Negroamaro (40%)
Price: € 16.00 Score:
Amativo shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, tobacco, chocolate, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum. Amativo ages in barrique for 10 months.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Colli Orientali del Friuli Bianco Tové 2008, Cecchini Marco (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Bianco Tové 2008
Cecchini Marco (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Friulano, Verduzzo Friulano
Price: € 12.20 Score:
Colli Orientali del Friuli Bianco Tové shows a brilliant golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of apple, plum and almond followed by aromas of hawthorn, honey, broom, pineapple, grapefruit, pear and mineral. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, plum and almond. A part of Friulano grape ferments and ages in cask. Colli Orientali del Friuli Bianco Tové ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Stuffed pasta, Broiled fish, Roasted white meat, Mushroom soups



Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit 2007, Cecchini Marco (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit 2007
Cecchini Marco (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Picolit
Price: € 28.00 - 500ml Score: Wine that excels in its category
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit shows a pale amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of raisin, honey and dried apricot followed by aromas of lavender, candied fruits, peach jam, date, almond, citrus fruit peel, lychee and nail polish. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and round attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of died apricot, raisin and honey. Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Confectionery, Drzxuppa coadaied fruit tarts, Hard and piquant cheese



Dolcetto d'Alba Gattera La Foia 2009, Curto Marco (Piedmont, Italy)
Dolcetto d'Alba Gattera La Foia 2009
Curto Marco (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Dolcetto
Price: € 9.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Dolcetto d'Alba Gattera La Foia shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, moderate transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of raspberry, blueberry, violet and cyclamen. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry, blackberry and plum. Dolcetto d'Alba Gattera La Foia ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Sauteed meat, Stewed meat, Stuffed pasta



Barolo La Foia 2006, Curto Marco (Piedmont, Italy)
Barolo La Foia 2006
Curto Marco (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Nebbiolo
Price: € 27.00 Score:
Barolo La Foia shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of raspberry, vanilla, rose, tobacco, cinnamon, pink pepper and chocolate. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry. Barolo La Foia ages for 2 years in cask followed by 2 years of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese



Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007, Bindella (Tuscany, Italy)
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Bindella (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (85%), Other Grapes (15%)
Price: € 18.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva ages for 24 months in cask followed by 12 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Vin Santo di Montepulciano Dolce Sinfonia 2006, Bindella (Tuscany, Italy)
Vin Santo di Montepulciano Dolce Sinfonia 2006
Bindella (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Trebbiano Toscano (80%), Malvasia Bianca (20%)
Price: € 25.00 - 375ml Score: Wine that excels in its category
Vin Santo di Montepulciano Dolce Sinfonia shows a deep amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, moderate transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of dried fig, raisin and almond followed by aromas of date, apricot jam, quince jam, caramel, vanilla, honey, citrus fruit peel, tobacco and nail polish. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and round attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of dried fig, raisin and honey. Vin Santo di Montepulciano Dolce Sinfonia ages in caratelli (small barrels) for 3 years followed by 12 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Confectionery, Dried fruit tarts, Piquant cheese






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 97, June 2011   
The Tools of the TasterThe Tools of the Taster Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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