Introductory Wine Course, Part 3
Welcome back to our Introductory Wine Course series!
Before we start this next lesson, have a quick read of the how to look and smell wine as well as how to taste wine.
This week we'll begin to look at how to analyse wines.
The following a approach to analysing wines is designed to objectively analyse wines and draw conclusions. Keep in mind, however, that you may not always like a wine, though can deem it perfectly good quality.
It is best to analyse a wine 'blind'. This means that you do not look at the label, but taste the wine on the merits of its appearance, aroma & palate.
Below are common descriptive words used in order to explain the wine your are tasting.
How to analyse wine and common tasting descriptors
Place the wine into a suitable glass. Look at the wine against a white background. Below are the four visual elements you will analyse prior to tasting.
- Style of wine - Red, white, rose
- State of maturity - Young red wines show purple wines reflections that brown with age, young whites are pale with green tints that deepen & become golden with age.
- Body - Light, medium, full bodied by the viscosity & depth of colour
- Condition of the wine - Any sediments or hazes? Or star bright & luminous?
Appearance - Tasting Descriptors
- Clarity - Brilliant / Star-bright / Transparent / Cloudy / Hazy / Turbid / Opaque
- Intensity - Deep / Dark / Rich / Pale / Light / Week
- Hue - Watery / Lemon / Greenish / Amber / Gold / Straw / Garnet / Strawberry / Cherry / Brick
- Maturity for whites - Pale lemon to old golds
- Maturity for reds - Purples tinted to brownish
- Faults - Clouds or hazes (sediment and cork bits are not faults)
80% of the perception of a wine derives from its aroma
- Variety(ies) employed - What flavours d you smell? Each grape type has its own unique characteristics that vary from where they originate.
- Origin - Wines can express their terroir. Experience & theory knowledge helps.
- State of maturity - Youthful wines smell fresh (primary & winemaking characteristics) and mellow and soften with age.
- Winemaking techniques - Oak, lees, carbon maceration, malolactic fermentation, etc.
- Condition - If not detected on the appearance, many faults are noticeable in the nose.
- Quality - The intensity, typicity, complexity of aromas provide clues about quality level.
Aroma - Tasting Descriptors
- Condition - Clean / Faulty
- Intensity - Low / Medium / High (forward or restrained)
- Fruit Character - Fruity / Floral / Vegetal / Spicy / Smoky / Minerals
- Secondary - Oak (new, old, type) / Malolactic / Lees influence
- Maturity - Youthful (green aromas / Aged bougquet / Tired / Oxidised
- Climate - Delicate / Green hints - Full / Luscious / Ripe characters
Confirms the impressions from steps 1 & 2 whilst also giving us other information
- Sweetness - Bone dry to sugary sweet, detected at the front of the toungue.
- Acid - Or sourness, level and type appears on the side of the tongue.
- Alcohol - The warmer and more rounded the sensation, the higher the alcohol level.
- Tannins - In red wines, the level and type are noticeable on the sides and back of the tongue.
- Finish - Long, lingering and interesting or short and forgettable.
- Quality attributes - Concentration of fruite, balance of components, intensity, complexity level, personality are a few vital factors to consider. Very important to determine a wine's cellaring potential.
Palate - Tasting Descriptors
- Sweetness - Bone dry / Off-dry / Medium / Sweet / Luscious / Honey / Treacle / Syrup / Cloying
- Acid - Flabby / Low / Balanced crisp / Acidic / Racy / Drying
- Alcohol - Low / Medium / High / Warm / Hot
- Tannin - Soft / Velvety / Silky / Powdered / Grippy / Hard / Astringent / Extracted / Green
- Body - Thin / Light / Medium / Full / Voluptuous / Heavy
- Fruit Intensity - Low / Restrained / Delicate / Medium / Pronounced
- Fruit Character - Fresh / Pure / Savoury edge / Mineral edge / ripeness
- Winemaking - Nutty (lees) / Creamy & grippy (oak) / Type of oak / Buttery (malolactic / Maceration level / Carbonic maceration (viscous)
- Length - Short / Ok / Persistent
- Variety - Primary fruit characters, acid, sweetness, tannins, alcohol, style of winemaking
- Origin - 1. Restrained/forward, fruit character & Style, acid, complexity.
- Origin - 2. Secondary fruit, colour, structure, clarity, tannin, ﬁnesse, length.
- Origin 3. Tertiary characters, winemaking inﬂuences
- Vintage - Colour, Integration, knowledge of vintage characters
- Age - Tannin character, bouquet development, loss of primary characters
- Quality - Intensity (nose & palate), balance, concentration, length, personality, depth, complexity.
Come back next week to learn about the basics of wine judging and main wine faults.