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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 130, June 2014   
Improving Your Tasting SkillsImproving Your Tasting Skills Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 129, May 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 131, Summer 2014

Improving Your Tasting Skills

Being successful in sensorial tasting of wine is the result of a continuous will of improving our skills.

 Sensorial tasting of wine is a practice capable of giving emotions and satisfaction, something certainly renewing at each bottle and at each glass. Moreover, it is a practice requiring commitment, concentration and attention as sometimes the taster can also need to evaluate difficult wines and not easily understandable. Each wine, with no exception, offers a chance to improve our tasting skills. This is also true for the wines tasted in the past as, although this can be seen as exaggerated, each bottle of the same wine is different from all the other ones. For this reason, sensorial tasting of wine done with a critical and analytical goal cannot be done superficially. In particular, every time a wine is being tasted - including in informal occasions - it should be considered as a moment giving an opportunity of study.


 

 On this regard, it should be noticed sensorial tasting done informally and in places capable of influencing the perception of wine, should be considered in function of the conditions. The presence of non properly favorable conditions however allows the understanding of how certain elements are capable of affecting and influencing the perception of a wine. Therefore, the tasting done in not truly favorable conditions, however offers the tasters an opportunity of study and improvement according to the influence of certain factors. Unfortunately, in these cases the elements of study offered by a wine are limited in function of conditioning factors and it will be the skill of the taster to allow him or her to get the most out of the circumstance. In these specific conditions it will however be possible to get some general and useful elements for the evaluation of wine, properly filtered from disturbing factors.

 The skill of taking advance of every occasion in which a wine is being tasted is, as a matter of fact, an important factor allowing the improvement of our skills. In fact, it is fundamental to continuously practice the task of tasting. The analogy with an athlete is clearly appropriate: in order to get better results he or she needs a continuous training, with commitment and method. After all, we cannot expect to learn the practice of sensorial tasting by simply reading books, magazine reports or wine reviews. Practice is fundamental. What we read in books and magazines is however useful for learning the theory and for comparing our own evaluations.

 Learning wine making techniques and viticulture is fundamental in order to improve our tasting skills. We cannot, in fact, analyze and evaluate a wine in case we do not know how it is made, from vineyard to bottle. The study of viticulture and enology in fact allows the understanding of how the many techniques can influence the sensorial qualities of wine. Of course, we do not need to have deep knowledge on these subjects, something being essential for the ones cultivating a vineyard or making wine. The study of viticulture and enology cannot however be superficial or elementary: the advantage of knowing how certain results can be obtained in vineyard and in winery, and how they interact in function of a wine, gives the taster a better understanding of what has been poured in a glass.


Taking notes of tastings it is
very useful for improving our skill
Taking notes of tastings it is very useful for improving our skill

 Knowing how a wine is made also gives an undeniable advantage for the understanding of one of the most cunning aspects of sensorial evaluation: faults. Being capable of recognizing wine faults certainly is one of the most complex aspects and for which a taster usually does not pay much attention during the study. Recognizing faults and knowing the factors causing them, represent for the taster a superior advantage and skill. Not being capable of doing so, the perception of a smell of which one is not capable of classifying or identifying, leaves the taster in a complete uncertainty and this can also affect the final result. Moreover, not being capable of recognizing faults can also make the taster classify an obvious fault as a good quality, by identifying it as a typical and positive characteristic of a wine.

 For this reason, a taster should pay attention on the study and the recognition of wine faults. Like already said in other occasions, a quality wine is - first of all - a wine having the least possible number of faults. In case an evident fault is perceived in a wine - and in case we are not tasting a series of wines - it is good to concentrate on its study instead of rejecting that wine. The same should not be done in case we are tasting a series of wines, as a wine with an evident olfactory or gustatory fault could affect the perception and the evaluation of the next ones. The circumstance is negligible in case of faults in the appearance of wine. In case we cannot explain the causes of a fault because our wine making and viticulture knowledge does not allow us to do so, it is advised - in case we can do that - to ask an expert taster or wine maker, in order to get another chance of study.

 To recognize means, first of all, to know. You cannot, in fact, identify something - both in positive or negative terms - if you don't know it. Besides the useful predisposition for curiosity - every sensorial stimulus is an important chance of study for every taster - we also need a very good sensorial memory. This skill is particularly useful for the identification of aromas, among the main aspects of sensorial evaluation in a wine. The use of analogy for olfactory descriptors is a very common practice during the tasting of a wine. It is in fact a useful simplification in order to easily communicate and olfactory stimulus to everyone. Saying in a wine is being perceived the aroma of black pepper is something understandable to everyone and can be easily associated. Saying it is being perceived rotundone - the sesquiterpene responsible for the aromas of black pepper, found in certain wines produced with Syrah grape - is probably incomprehensible to many.

 Having a sensorial curiosity, that is to pay attention to sight, smell, taste and touch stimuli, is a practice every taster should do all the time, in particular in case of the perception of new and unknown stimuli. Likewise, the perception of a known stimulus makes both a useful memory training and a chance to perfect and widen the information associated to that stimulus. Let's consider, for example, the smell of apple. If it is true the base mark allows the immediate association to this fruit, it is also true not all the apples have the same smell and, moreover, it can also change according to ripeness and keeping. A green apple has a different smell from a russet apple, both different from the aromas of a Fuji apple.

 Another good habit every taster should have, certainly useful for the improvement of his or her skills, is to take note of the tasting. For this purpose can be used the evaluation forms used by professional wine associations or we can also create a personal model based on criteria and methods useful for the proper sensorial description of a wine. In case the taster prefer not to use evaluation forms, another good way is to take note in a notebook in the form and way the taster like the best. Tasting notes help the taster to “remember” his or her impressions, while allowing the creation of a personal database about this activity. This “database” is very useful in order to remember sensorial qualities of wines also in function of the territory, grapes, vintages and wine making techniques.

 It is advised to classify and catalog tasting notes or evaluation forms in order to allow a quicker and better browsing and search. On this regard, a computer certainly is very useful, as well as a tablet or smartphone, in particular in searching data, while allowing a quick extraction of information and their comparison. In case it is not possible to create a specific software for this purpose, it can also be used any database software, or a simple word processor, by properly classifying the single forms and notes. In this sense, the use of the computer is very useful in order to search and compare wines having particular characteristics, therefore having a good tool for studying and for training your memory.

 The method adopted for sensorial tasting is essential in order to improve the taster's skills. Concentration and attention are fundamental requisites in order to ensure a reliable result of the evaluation, conditions mainly favored by blind tasting. This is in fact the preferred method used for the taster education and training, as the lack of identifying elements and factors will force the taster to a higher concentration and attention. The so called unblind tasting - unavoidable in certain cases - however offers chances of study, although some aspects of the wine will be considered as predictable and obvious, therefore considered superficially. No matter the case, it is always advised to get the best profit out of the tasting condition, no matter the goal and method.

 Finally, one of the fundamental factors allowing the taster to efficiently do its job certainly is represented by experience. A condition taking time and commitment, in particular the awareness that you will always be learning as every wine is different from any other one and, as such, it cannot be considered superficially. In every wine will certainly be found known characteristics and learned from previous tastings, we can recognize grape varieties and specific wine making techniques, however it will always have a personality different from every other wine. Improving our sensorial tasting skills takes time, patience and commitment, in particular the awareness that - in order to get good results - it is fundamental to persevere both in training and practice.

 






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 130, June 2014   
Improving Your Tasting SkillsImproving Your Tasting Skills Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 129, May 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 131, Summer 2014

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




Cuvée Secrète 2012, Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria, Italy)
Cuvée Secrète 2012
Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: n.d.
Price: € 30.00 Score:
Cuvée Secrète shows a brilliant straw yellow color and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of apple, banana and pear followed by aromas of plum, peach, citrus fruits, vanilla, acacia honey, broom, hazelnut 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 banana, apple and pear. Cuvée Secrète ages for 6 months in barrique followed by 4 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Pasta with meat, Roasted white meat, Roasted fish, Legume soups



Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2009, Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2009
Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 55.00 Score:
Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, plum and black cherry followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, peony, cinnamon, mace, pink pepper, licorice and menthol. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni ages for 24 months in barrique followed by at least 8 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Amarone della Valpolicella 2009, Fattori (Veneto, Italy)
Amarone della Valpolicella 2009
Fattori (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Corvina (65%), Corvinone (15%), Rondinella (10%), Other Grapes (10%)
Price: € 50.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This Amarone della Valpolicella shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas that start with hints of black cherry, plum and blackberry followed by aromas of dried violet, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, cinnamon, mace 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, blackberry and plum. This Amarone della Valpolicella ages for 36 months in cask.
Food Match: Game, Braised and stewed meat, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Soave Motto Piane 2012, Fattori (Veneto, Italy)
Soave Motto Piane 2012
Fattori (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Garganega
Price: € 22.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Soave Motto Piane shows an intense golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of apple, plum and almond followed by aromas of medlar, peach, citrus fruits, hawthorn, honey, plum, pear and hints of 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, plum and medlar. Soave Motto Piane is produced with partially dried grapes and part of it ages in cask.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with vegetable and crustaceans, Mushroom soups, Roasted white meat, Roasted fish



Le Margherite 2010, Mossio (Piedmont, Italy)
Le Margherite 2010
Mossio (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Dolcetto
Price: € 22.00 - 500ml Score:
Le Margherite shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of cherry jam, prune and dried violet followed by aromas of blackberry jam, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, raspberry jam, vanilla and nail polish. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and properly tannic attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry jam, prune and blueberry jam. Le Margherite is made with dried grapes and ages for 24 months in barrique.
Food Match: Jam tarts, Hard cheese



Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco Caramelli 2012, Mossio (Piedmont, Italy)
Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco Caramelli 2012
Mossio (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Dolcetto
Price: € 11.00 Score:   Good value wine
Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco Caramelli shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of purple red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of raspberry, strawberry, violet, blueberry, almond, anise, cyclamen, geranium and mint. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness and roundness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of cherry, plum and blackberry. Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco Caramelli ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Cold cuts, Pasta with meat and mushrooms, Roasted white meat, Sauteed meat



Chianti Rufina Riserva Montesodi Castello di Nipozzano 2010, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Rufina Riserva Montesodi Castello di Nipozzano 2010
Marchesi de' Frescobaldi (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese
Price: € 35.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Chianti Rufina Riserva Montesodi Castello di Nipozzano shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant which start with hints of black cherry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of raspberry, blueberry, chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, pink pepper, mace and menthol. 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 black cherry, plum and raspberry. Chianti Rufina Riserva Montesodi Castello di Nipozzano ages for 18 months in barrique followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braoised meat, Hard cheese



Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2008, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi (Tuscany, Italy)
Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2008
Marchesi de' Frescobaldi (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese
Price: € 40.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of blueberry, vanilla, blackberry, rose, tobacco, chocolate, raspberry, cinnamon, 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 black cherry, plum and blueberry. Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo ages in cask and barrique for at least 2 years followed by at least 4 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale La Dolce Vite 2009, L'Antico Palmento (Apulia, Italy)
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale La Dolce Vite 2009
L'Antico Palmento (Apulia, Italy)
Grapes: Primitivo
Price: € 28.00 Score:
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale La Dolce Vite shows a deep 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 jam, blackberry jam, black cherry jam and dried violet followed by aromas of blueberry jam, tamarind, walnut husk, carob and nail polish. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and tannic attack, however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry jam, black cherry jam and plum jam. Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale La Dolce Vite ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Jam tarts, Chocolate tarts, Hard and piquant cheese



Primitivo di Manduria Acini Spargoli 2011, L'Antico Palmento (Apulia, Italy)
Primitivo di Manduria Acini Spargoli 2011
L'Antico Palmento (Apulia, Italy)
Grapes: Primitivo
Price: € 24.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Primitivo di Manduria Acini Spargoli shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, walnut husk, chocolate, tobacco 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, black cherry and plum. Primitivo di Manduria Acini Spargoli ferments in barrique, ages in steel tanks and for 6 months in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Game, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 130, June 2014   
Improving Your Tasting SkillsImproving Your Tasting Skills Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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