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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 115, February 2013   
Tasting: More Than a TechniqueTasting: More Than a Technique Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 114, January 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 116, March 2013

Tasting: More Than a Technique

Sensorial tasting is made of techniques forcing the taster to do the job according to specific criteria. Technique, however, is not everything

 Sensorial testing is a very important practice for knowing and understanding wine. A concept already expressed in the past in these pages, something reasserted again in this occasion. This does not mean the appreciation of a wine can be done by the strict practice of tasting only, as appreciation - in its many forms - is, after all, a purely subjective matter. A wine can certainly be appreciated in informal and friendly occasions as well, in company of friends while enjoying the occasion and the moment itself, of course, provided this is done in moderation and never with a shameful abuse. When a wine is being evaluated according to the sensorial tasting technique, in an analytic and critical way, it is however fundamental to abandon the emotional state typical in informal and friendly situations. A fundamental condition is in fact a state of isolation from any external factor which could disturb concentration and attention towards the content of the glass.


 

 Sensorial tasting is, with no doubt, the use and application of specific methods and techniques in order to evaluate and determine the characteristics and quality of a wine. It should be considered that sensorial evaluation is not a discipline concerning wine only, but any element - therefore not only food and beverages - having the property of stimulating senses, every type of sense. The practice of sensorial tasting, although it is mainly made of technical factors, it is not based on the analysis of the elements involved in the definition and constitution of the result only. Technique, every technique, requires three specific conditions in order to be useful and to give concrete and tangible results. First of all, it is necessary to know the technique, the factors and the methods making it, therefore - a fundamental step - it is required to understand it. Understanding a technique therefore implies the condition of having proper requirements and competences allowing the learning and understanding.

 After having learnt and understood the technique, in its theoretical form, it is indispensable to have the capability of rendering the theoretical concept in its practical form, that is the capacity of knowing how to use the concepts according to the real circumstance of use. For example, as for wine, gustatory evaluation technique is based on the same theoretical principles, however their application differs according to the style of wine to be evaluated. The evaluation and determination of balance, for example, radically changes in case of a white wine or a red wine. Finally, the capability of knowing how to determine results and, therefore, knowing how to understand and interpret the result in order to get consistent and defined information and reference models. The latter aspect, representing, as a matter of fact, the primary goal of a technique and its use, allows not only the definition and evaluation of the sample to be examined, but also - and in particular - the possibility to compare it with other samples in order to determine differences and peculiarities of each of them.

 Learning and understanding a technique, like already said, is done thanks to the preliminary knowledge of the elements to which the technique refers to. In other words, in order to understand arithmetic and mathematics, it is indispensable to know what numbers are. Likewise, in order to taste a wine in a profitable way, it is indispensable to know what is wine, what are the elements and conditions involved in production and, not less important, how it is produced. Knowing how to taste a wine does not mean being a wine maker, vintner or agronomist, likewise, being a wine maker, vintner or agronomist does not mean being a taster. It is however indispensable for a wine maker to know the techniques of wine sensorial tasting - his job is, after all, about making the fundamental element of the tasting - and it certainly is not indispensable for a taster to be a wine maker. These roles evidently have different goals, but it is however undeniable that a good taster must have the knowledge, a good knowledge, about wine making and viticulture.


Wine sensorial tasting, besides a glass
and technique, also requires knowledge and strategy
Wine sensorial tasting, besides a glass and technique, also requires knowledge and strategy

 However, sensorial tasting is not a practice in which improvisation, even worse, superficiality, can bring to reliable results, it is however undeniable curiosity, an innate predisposition and talent, are elements of remarkable value. If it is true in order to profitably understand and use the techniques of sensorial tasting it is fundamental the knowledge of wine and its production, likewise it is equally important to know the tools allowing its application, such as the glass and the organs of sense. Besides this, it is also fundamental to understand the role of physical and environmental factors strongly influencing the perception of each stimulus, such as, for example, temperature of wine and environment. A red wine, tasted at a temperature of 10 °C, will bring to a result very different from the same tasting done at a temperature of 18 °C. The result is also affected by the specific qualities of wine, such as astringency, acidity and alcohol.

 The practice of sensorial tasting unavoidably requires the knowledge and understanding of other disciplines and competences. It is not enough to know the techniques to be used, one must - among the other things - know, and not superficially, the physiology of taste and senses, the characteristics of grapes, the role of environment and viticultural conditions, viticultural and wine making techniques and how they can affect production in function of all the other elements. For example, the same grape can produce extremely different results according to the place and condition in which it has been cultivated, viticultural methods used during the course of the season, meteorological conditions and, last but not the least, how the grapes have been processed during production. Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape known for making wine of good structure and with deep and intense colors, can also make wines of medium body, with a pale color and high transparency, in case it was cultivated in wrong places and with high yields.

 The study of auxiliary matters related to enology and viticulture - in any case to be considered as fundamental - are of extreme importance for every taster. Understanding the quality and characteristics of a territory and its grapes, has in the practice of sensorial tasting, its primary application of study. Likewise, this is equally important for every discipline related to wine: by using sensorial tasting it is possible to test and evaluate different cultural and wine making techniques, including environmental, ampelographic and meteorological conditions. This latter aspect, has its maximum efficiency in comparative sensorial tasting, by comparing wines produced with the same grapes but cultivated and produced in different territories. Likewise, it is extremely useful to compare wines of the same producer and belonging to different vintages, as well as a wine of the same vintage and belonging to the same territory, but produced by different wineries.

 The two latter examples, are respectively defined vertical tasting and horizontal tasting. To these should also be added - for the sake of completeness - the so called diagonal tasting, consisting in the comparative evaluation of wines belonging to the same style and territory, but produced in different vintages and different producers. Diagonal tasting, as a matter of fact, does not offer concrete chances of study, as the differences of elements making the wines, style and territory apart, do not allow the definition of a consistent model of study. The practice and usefulness of comparative tasting - despite of its type - is in any case beneficial and profitable for the study and preliminary knowledge of the characteristic elements of the wine to be tasted. In other words, in case the wines to be compared are all produced with grapes cultivated in sandy soils, the color observed in the glass will be paler than the same grape cultivated in clay soil.

 Time and practice give the taster an invaluable tool, something going beyond the understanding and usage of techniques. Among them, two factors are particularly useful and fundamental in order to do a profitable tasting: memory and experience. In both cases, their development is not favored, like to say, by a purely theoretical study of the matters, but by a practice done with commitment and in a profitable way. To continuously exercising our skills by practicing sensorial tasting is - as a matter of fact - the most important aspect in order to acquire new elements useful to improve our experience and knowledge. Experience and knowledge are presuppositions requiring a good memory: practicing without learning - therefore, remembering - what has been done and what has been perceived in a wine, makes the tasting useless for our education and skill.

 For this reason, invaluable allies of the taster are paper and pen. Taking notes of all the tasting done, what has been perceived, comments and thoughts about the sensorial evaluation and how each element interacts with others, will allow the taster to develop a proper and invaluable historical memory. Taking note of our impressions and sensations perceived during the tasting, it is not however the only type of memory beneficial to the taster. There is in fact a type of memory that, for its nature, cannot take full advantage of writing and words: sensorial memory and, in particular, olfactory memory. Remembering an aroma, a smell, and being capable to quickly associate it with a specific wine, or a territory, grape, wine making technique or environment, represents a remarkable tool for every taster. This capability is obtained both by a personal talent, but also - and in particular - by practice and training, last but not the least, by a good level of concentration.

 Concentration is a fundamental condition in order to get the best advantage from sensorial tasting, not only for the understanding of techniques and the improvement of the knowledge about the wine to be evaluated, but also, in particular, for the determination of a reliable and useful result. For this reason, the profitable practice of sensorial tasting provides for the adoption of environmental conditions in order to favor the concentration without interferences or disturbing elements. Concentration is obtained, besides by favorable environmental conditions, by the taster's mental condition, by a relaxed condition, while trying to not allow our thoughts - negative and positive as well - to influence the evaluation and, therefore, the reliability of the job. Likewise, the presence of disturbing sensorial elements, such as perfumes and smell in the tasting room, making use of perfumes, having recently consumed food or beverages, all represent elements of disturb, not only for the concentration and the perception of sensorial stimuli.

 Every taster, with time and practice, develops his or her own personal methods and strategies, in order to make the work of tasting the most profitable possible. Each phase of tasting, besides using technique, is also done by adopting a very personal method of job, in particular for the evaluation and recognition of wine aromas. In this sense, the awareness of the elements identified in the appearance analysis, allow the taster to use methods and strategies for each wine style. By seeing a red wine, for example, the taster will use a different analytic approach than the one used for white or sparkling wines. The most complex phase of sensorial tasting certainly is olfactory evaluation, besides being the most interesting one. Having a strategy for the recognition of aromas - including memory - allows to do the job in a short time. For example, it is more profitable to start by identifying the family to which the olfactory stimulus belongs to - such as flowers, fruits, vegetables or tertiary aromas - instead of concentrating on the recognition of a specific aroma. The same is also true for gustatory analysis and for taste-olfactory correspondence.

 



 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 115, February 2013   
Tasting: More Than a TechniqueTasting: More Than a Technique Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 114, January 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 116, March 2013

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




Ser Gioveto 2009, Rocca delle Macie (Tuscany, Italy)
Ser Gioveto 2009
Rocca delle Macie (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (20%)
Price: € 27.00 Score:
Ser Gioveto shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, cocoa, tobacco, mace and eucalyptus. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. Ser Gioveto ages for about 14 months in barrique followed by 9 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Chianti Classico Riserva 2009, Rocca delle Macie (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
Rocca delle Macie (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), Merlot (5%)
Price: € 19.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Chianti Classico Riserva shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and black currant followed by aromas of violet, plum, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, tobacco and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. Chianti Classico Riserva ages for about two years in cask followed by at least 3 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Broiled meat and barbecue, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms



Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008, Tedeschi (Veneto, Italy)
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008
Tedeschi (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Corvina (30%), Corvinone (30%), Rondinella (30%), Oseleta, Negrara, Dindarella, Rossignola (10%)
Price: € 30.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This Amarone della Valpolicella Classico shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of plum, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, leather, mace, pink pepper 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 blackberry, plum and black cherry. This Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ages in cask for 3 years followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Stewed and braised meat, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi 2007, Tedeschi (Veneto, Italy)
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi 2007
Tedeschi (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Corvina (30%), Corvinone (30%), Rondinella (30%), Oseleta, Negrara, Dindarella, Croatina, Forselina (10%)
Price: € 55.00 Score:
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of plum, cherries in alcohol, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, leather, mace and menthol. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi ages for about 3 years in cask followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Stewed and braised meat, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry 2011, Montelvini (Veneto, Italy)
Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry 2011
Montelvini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Glera
Price: € 9.20 Score:
Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry shows an intense greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent, fine and persistent perlage. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of apple, hawthorn and wistaria followed by aromas of apple, pear, pineapple, peach, broom and plum. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, an effervescent attack and pleasing sweetness, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, pear and peach. Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry referments in closed tank for 2 months.
Food Match: Aperitifs, Vegetable appetizers, Vegetable flans, Risotto with vegetable and crustaceans



Montello e Colli Asolani Rosso Fontana Masorin 2006, Montelvini (Veneto, Italy)
Montello e Colli Asolani Rosso Fontana Masorin 2006
Montelvini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Merlot (60%), Cabernet Franc (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%)
Price: € 9.20 Score:
Montello e Colli Asolani Rosso Fontana Masorin shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of plum, black currant and black cherry followed by aromas of blueberry, dried violet, vanilla, tobacco, leather, licorice and chocolate. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black currant and black cherry. Montello e Colli Asolani Rosso Fontana Masorin ages for 18 months in barrique followed by 18 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato 2004, Villa Mongalli (Umbria, Italy)
Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato 2004
Villa Mongalli (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 21.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, mace and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry. Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 30 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Sagrantino di Montefalco Della Cima 2004, Villa Mongalli (Umbria, Italy)
Sagrantino di Montefalco Della Cima 2004
Villa Mongalli (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 31.50 Score:
Sagrantino di Montefalco Della Cima shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of plum, vanilla, chocolate, licorice, tobacco, blueberry, leather, mace, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry. Sagrantino di Montefalco Della Cima ages for 24 months in barrique followed by 36 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 115, February 2013   
Tasting: More Than a TechniqueTasting: More Than a Technique Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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