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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 146, December 2015   
The Value of Sensorial TastingThe Value of Sensorial Tasting  Contents 
Issue 145, November 2015 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 147, January 2016

The Value of Sensorial Tasting


 In the sensorial tasting classes I organize or in those where I am invited as a lecturer, as well as in DiWineTaste events or in those where I am invited as a speaker, one of the most recurring questions participants ask me is about wine tasting. In particular, many ask me what the sensorial and organoleptic evaluation of wine is for, that is why one should concentrate, almost obsessively, on the definition of its aromas and flavors. Many believe wine should mainly be seen as a mean to celebrate emotions, in a direct way and with no complications, away from technique and any other technological or analytical implication. Others believe wine should celebrate a land and its tradition, therefore it should be mainly enjoyed as the expression of these elements. Others insist on the fact wine should be appreciated in function of the stories of the places and the people who make it - as well as in function of production visions and philosophy - because this is its true expression.


 

 My answer is always the same and I tell everyone it is a matter of points of view, in particular, it depends on what you are looking for or want to find in a glass of wine. Sometimes I see that, for some, wine is mainly the expression of the “stories” and “tales” used for its communication, enough to define it good or bad, right or deplorable, emblem of the saint or devil. There is no doubt wine is the expression of many factors, representing endless cultures and traditions and, as such, it is also seen and interpreted in an absolutely subjective way. It is therefore normal each one of us, no matter of the job or interest for wine, sees in the beverage of Bacchus something different and personal. In this sense, it is normal for those who do not work in the world of wine, like to say, technically, to be scarcely interested in analytic aspects, by even considering them not belonging to wine and far away from the real nature of wine.

 As for me, my personal interest for wine is mainly of technical nature, therefore, when I do a sensorial tasting, I try to understand wine in a technical way. I am aware, indeed, I strongly believe and say, wine is also the result of countless factors depending on Nature, environmental and meteorological conditions, specific qualities of grape and soil. Likewise, I believe it is the result of the technique men use in cultivating vine and how the grape is transformed into wine by means of chemical, biological and technical ways. Every product made by the intervention of man, in every form or expression, is the result of his genius and technique. In the specific case of wine, it is also the result of the interaction of man with Nature and what it gives him, by taking advantage of this and according to the goal he wants to achieve.

 On this regard, the function of sensorial tasting becomes very important as well as fundamental. Not only a method used to asses the quality of wine, but also for the definition and evaluation of the whole process that from the land takes to wine. Sensorial tasting has a fundamental role and, in the winery - that is the place where a wine is being produced - it is a precious companion for the chemical and biological analysis, something every producers needs to do, either on his or her own or by asking an external laboratory. Not only an analytic method, done by using human senses, in order to verify the quality of the production process, as well as for the evaluation of the correspondence to type or style. To be honest, it would be quite superficial and incautious to bottle a wine without exactly knowing what is being put in a bottle. I am not talking about the organoleptic quality of wine only, indeed, I am talking about biological, sanitary and chemical conditions.

 Wine sensorial tasting is a discipline taking a lot of commitment, continuous training and concentration. An extremely important tool for the analysis and the evaluation of wine, in particular, for the determination of faults, primary negative factors of wine agreeableness. Moreover, it is an evaluation method capable of telling the characteristics of a territory and its grapes, last but not the least, the way men use these factors in order to make their wines. The obsessive way, like to say, used to recognize wine aromas and to identify them by analogy to the aromatic characteristics of other elements, has a very important role. First of all, the correspondence and recognizability of grapes, territories, viticultural and wine making practices, not less important, mistakes or faults occurred during production. For example, in case we are perceiving in a wine made from Chardonnay the aroma of cherry, we should ask ourselves, at the very least, about the wine making techniques used for the production of that wine.

 However, sensorial tasting is not an infallible discipline, as it is strongly affected by the skill and culture of the taster and, sometimes, by his or her personal preference and taste. Despite of this, it is a fundamental and important analysis in order to better understand a wine and the same is true for the tasting of food, tea, beer, olive oil and any other food or beverage. It is a useful practice to understand the potentials and specific characteristics of grape, territories, viticultural and wine making techniques, the skill and talent of man as a “vintner and wine maker”. On this regard, sensorial tasting leaves little room to emotions and the romantic side of wine, two aspects mainly focused on the subjective and ephemeral interpretation, mostly associated to the mood of the moment. In other words, it is about two ways to consider a wine and the context in which it is expressed, mainly determined by what one looks for or wants to see in a wine. The goal of sensorial tasting, among the other things, is also about the development and training of senses, including memory and the evocative sense, the same as music, painting, cooking and any other artistic expression. For this reason, based on my own experience of taster, last but not the least, being an explorer of sensations and emotions - of life, intellect, food or beverages - I do consider sensorial tasting an art.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 146, December 2015   
The Value of Sensorial TastingThe Value of Sensorial Tasting  Contents 
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