Introductory Wine Course, Part 3

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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

Appearance
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)

Aroma
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

Palate
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

Conclusions

  • 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.
Salute!

Introductory Wine Course, Part 1 >> Read More
Introductory Wine Course, Part 2 >> Read More
Introductory Wine Course, Part 4 >> Read More
Introductory Wine Course, Part 5 >> Read More