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Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. While the practice of wine tasting is as ancient as its production, a more formalized methodology has slowly become established from the 14th century onwards. Modern, professional wine tasters (such as sommeliers or buyers for retailers) use a constantly evolving specialized terminology which is used to describe the range of perceived flavors, aromas and general characteristics of a wine. More informal, recreational tasting may use similar terminology, usually involving a much less analytical process for a more general, personal appreciation.
Results that have surfaced through scientific blind wine tasting suggest the unreliability of wine tasting in both experts and consumers, such as inconsistency in identifying wines based on region and price.
The Sumerian stories of Gilgamesh in the 3rd millennium BCE differentiate the popular beers of Mesopotamia, as well as wines from Zagros Mountains or Lebanon.In the fourth century BCE, Plato listed the main flavors of wine, and classified the aromas as "species", or families.
Aristotle proposed a sensory tasting defined by the four elements (air, water, fire, and earth) further deepened by the Roman noblewoman Lucretia in the first century BCE.
Although the practice of tasting is as old as the history of wine, the term "tasting" first appeared in 1519.The methodology of wine tasting was formalized by the 18th century when Linnaeus, Poncelet, and others brought an understanding of tasting up to date.
In 2004, Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their contribution to the knowledge of the senses of taste and smell.
The results of the four recognized stages to wine tasting:
– are combined in order to establish the following properties of a wine:
A wine's overall quality assessment, based on this examination, follows further careful description and comparison with recognized standards, both with respect to other wines in its price range and according to known factors pertaining to the region or vintage; if it is typical of the region or diverges in style; if it uses certain wine-making techniques, such as barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation, or any other remarkable or unusual characteristics.
Whereas wines are regularly tasted in isolation, a wine's quality assessment is more objective when performed alongside several other wines, in what are known as tasting "flights". Wines may be deliberately selected for their vintage ("horizontal" tasting) or proceed from a single winery ("vertical" tasting), to better compare vineyard and vintages, respectively. Alternatively, in order to promote an unbiased analysis, bottles and even glasses may be disguised in a "blind" tasting, to rule out any prejudicial awareness of either vintage or winery.
To ensure impartial judgment of a wine, it should be served blind – that is, without the taster(s) having seen the label or bottle shape. Blind tasting may also involve serving the wine from a black wine glass to mask the color of the wine. A taster's judgment can be prejudiced by knowing details of a wine, such as geographic origin, price, reputation, color, or other considerations.
Scientific research has long demonstrated the power of suggestion in perception as well as the strong effects of expectancies. For example, people expect more expensive wine to have more desirable characteristics than less expensive wine. When given wine that they are falsely told is expensive they virtually always report it as tasting better than the very same wine when they are told that it is inexpensive.French researcher Frédéric Brochet "submitted a mid-range Bordeaux in two different bottles, one labeled as a cheap table wine, the other bearing a grand cru etiquette." Tasters described the supposed grand cru as "woody, complex, and round" and the supposed cheap wine as "short, light, and faulty."
Similarly, people have expectations about wines because of their geographic origin, producer, vintage, color, and many other factors. For example, when Brochet served a white wine he received all the usual descriptions: "fresh, dry, honeyed, lively." Later he served the same wine dyed red and received the usual red terms: "intense, spicy, supple, deep."
One of the most famous instances of blind testing is known as the Judgment of Paris, a wine competition held in 1976 where French judges blind-tested wines from France and California. Against all expectations, California wines bested French wines according to the judges, a result which would have been unlikely in a non-blind contest. This event was depicted in the 2008 movie Bottle Shock .
Another well-publicized double-blind taste test was conducted in 2011 by Prof. Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire. In a wine tasting experiment using 400 participants, Wiseman found that general members of the public were unable to distinguish expensive wines from inexpensive ones."People just could not tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine".
In 2001, the University of Bordeaux asked 54 undergraduate students to test two glasses of wine: one red, one white. The participants described the red as "jammy" and commented on its crushed red fruit. The participants failed to recognize that both wines were from the same bottle. The only difference was that one had been colored red with a flavorless dye.
For six years, Texas A&M University invited people to taste wines labeled "France", "California", "Texas", and while nearly all ranked the French as best, in fact, all three were the same Texan wine. The contest is built on the simple theory that if people do not know what they are drinking, they award points differently than if they do know what they are drinking.
Vertical and horizontal wine tastings are wine tasting events that are arranged to highlight differences between similar wines.[ citation needed ]
Tasting flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.[ citation needed ]
A tasting note refers to a taster's written testimony about the aroma, taste identification, acidity, structure, texture, and balance of a wine. Online wine communities like Bottlenotes allow members to maintain their tasting notes online and for the reference of others.[ citation needed ]
The temperature that a wine is served at can greatly affect the way it tastes and smells. Lower temperatures will emphasize acidity and tannins while muting the aromatics. Higher temperatures will minimize acidity and tannins while increasing the aromatics.
|Wine type||Examples||Temperature (Celsius)||Temperature (Fahrenheit)|
|Light-bodied sweet dessert wines||Trockenbeerenauslese, Sauternes||6–10 °C||43–50 °F|
|White sparkling wines||Champagne, other sparkling wine||6–10 °C||43–50 °F|
|Aromatic, light-bodied white||Riesling, Sauvignon blanc||8–12 °C||46–54 °F|
|Red sparkling wines||Sparkling Shiraz, some frizzante Lambrusco||10–12 °C||50–54 °F|
|Medium-bodied whites||Chablis, Semillon||10–12 °C||50–54 °F|
|Full-bodied dessert wines||Oloroso Sherry, Madeira||8–12 °C||46–54 °F|
|Light-bodied red wines||Beaujolais, Provence rosé||10–12 °C||50–54 °F|
|Full-bodied white wines||Oaked Chardonnay, Rhone whites||12–16 °C||54–61 °F|
|Medium-bodied red wines||Grand Cru Burgundy, Sangiovese||14–17 °C||57–63 °F|
|Full-bodied red wines||Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo based wines||15–18 °C||59–64 °F|
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust uses the following recommendations for serving temperatures:
The shape of a wineglass can have a subtle impact on the perception of wine, especially its bouquet. [ citation needed ] which are "egg"-shaped. The effect of glass shape does not appear to be related to whether the glass is pleasing to look at.Typically, the ideal shape is considered to be wider toward the bottom, with a narrower aperture at the top (tulip or egg-shaped). Glasses which are widest at the top are considered the least ideal. Many wine tastings use ISO XL5 glasses,
The glass of reference is the INAO wine glass, a tool defined by specifications of the French Association for Standardization (AFNOR), which was adopted by INAO as the official glass in 1970, received its standard AFNOR in June 1971 and its ISO 3591 standard in 1972.The INAO has not submitted a file at the National Institute of Industrial Property, it is therefore copied en masse and has gradually replaced other tasting glasses in the world.
The glass must be lead crystal (9% lead). Its dimensions give it a total volume between 210 m and 225 ml, they are defined as follows:
The opening is narrower than the convex part so as to concentrate the bouquet. The capacity is approximately 215 ml, but it is intended to take a 50 ml pour.Some glasses of a similar shape, but with different capacities, may be loosely referred to as ISO glasses, but they form no part of the ISO specification.
Without having tasted the wines, one does not know if, for example, a white is heavy or light. Before taking a sip, the taster tries to determine the order in which the wines should be assessed by appearance and nose alone. Heavy wines will be deeper in color and generally more intense on the nose. Sweeter wines, being denser, will leave thick, viscous streaks (called legs or tears ) down the inside of the glass when swirled.
There are five basic steps in tasting wine: color, swirl, smell, taste, and savor.These are also known as the "five S" steps: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor. During this process, a taster must look for clarity, varietal character, integration, expressiveness, complexity, and connectedness.
A wine's color is better judged by putting it against a white background. The wine glass is put at an angle in order to see the colors. Colors can give the taster clues to the grape variety, and whether the wine was aged in wood.
Varietal character describes how much a wine presents its inherent grape aromas.A wine taster also looks for integration, which is a state in which none of the components of the wine (acid, tannin, alcohol, etc.) is out of balance with the other components. When a wine is well balanced, the wine is said to have achieved a harmonious fusion.
Another important quality of the wine to look for is its expressiveness. Expressiveness is the quality the "wine possesses when its aromas and flavors are well-defined and clearly projected."The complexity of the wine is affected by many factors, one of which may be the multiplicity of its flavors. The connectedness of the wine, a rather abstract and difficult to ascertain quality, describes the bond between the wine and its land of origin (terroir).
A wine's quality can be judged by its bouquet and taste. The bouquet is the total aromatic experience of the wine. Assessing a wine's bouquet can also reveal faults such as cork taint; oxidation due to age, overexposure to oxygen, or lack of preservatives; and wild yeast or bacterial contamination, such as those due to Acetobacter or Brettanomyces yeasts. Although low levels of Brettanomyces aromatic characteristics can be a positive attribute, giving the wine a distinctive character, generally it is considered a wine spoilage yeast.
The bouquet of wine is best revealed by gently swirling the wine in a wine glass to expose it to more oxygen and release more aromaticetheric, ester, and aldehyde molecules that comprise the essential components of a wine's bouquet. Sparkling wine should not be swirled to the point of releasing bubbles.
Pausing to experience a wine's bouquet aids the wine taster in anticipating the wine's flavors. The "nose" of a wine – its bouquet or aroma – is the major determinate of perceived flavor in the mouth. Once inside the mouth, the aromatics are further liberated by exposure to body heat, and transferred retronasally to the olfactory receptor site. It is here that the complex taste experience characteristic of a wine actually commences.
Thoroughly tasting a wine involves perception of its array of taste and mouthfeel attributes, which involve the combination of textures, flavors, weight, and overall "structure". Following appreciation of its olfactory characteristics, the wine taster savors a wine by holding it in the mouth for a few seconds to saturate the taste buds. By pursing ones lips and breathing through that small opening oxygen will pass over the wine and release even more esters. When the wine is allowed to pass slowly through the mouth it presents the connoisseur with the fullest gustatory profile available to the human palate.
The acts of pausing and focusing through each step distinguishes wine tasting from simple quaffing. Through this process, the full array of aromatic molecules is captured and interpreted by approximately 15 million olfactory receptors,comprising a few hundred olfactory receptor classes. When tasting several wines in succession, however, key aspects of this fuller experience (length and finish, or aftertaste) must necessarily be sacrificed through expectoration.
Although taste qualities are known to be widely distributed throughout the oral cavity, the concept of an anatomical "tongue map" yet persists in the wine tasting arena, in which different tastes are believed to map to different areas of the tongue. A widely accepted example is the misperception that the tip of the tongue uniquely tells how sweet a wine is and the upper edges tell its acidity.
As part of the tasting process, and as a way of comparing the merits of the various wines, wines are given scores according to a relatively set system. This may be either by explicitly weighting different aspects, or by global judgment (although the same aspects would be considered). These aspects are 1) the appearance of the wine, 2) the nose or smell, 3) the palate or taste, and 4) overall.Different systems weight these differently (e.g., appearance 15%, nose 35%, palate 50%). Typically, no modern wine would score less than half on any scale (which would effectively indicate an obvious fault). It is more common for wines to be scored out of 20 (including half marks) in Europe and parts of Australasia, and out of 100 in the US. However, different critics tend to have their own preferred system, and some gradings are also given out of 5 (again with half marks).
Traveling to wine regions is one way of increasing skill in tasting. Many wine producers in wine regions all over the world offer tastings of their wine. Depending on the country or region, tasting at the winery may incur a small charge to allow the producer to cover costs.
It is not considered rude to spit out wine at a winery, even in the presence of the wine maker or owner. Generally, a spittoon will be provided. In some regions of the world, tasters simply spit on the floor or onto gravel surrounding barrels. It is polite to inquire about where to spit before beginning tasting.
A growing number of wine schools can be found, offering wine tasting classes to the public. These programs often help a wine taster hone and develop their abilities in a controlled setting. Some also offer professional training for sommeliers and winemakers. It is even possible to learn how to assess wine methodically via e-learning.
Because intoxication can affect the consumer's judgment, wine tasters generally spit the wine out after they have assessed its quality at formal tastings, where dozens of wines may be assessed. However, since wine is absorbed through the skin inside the mouth, tasting from twenty to twenty-five samplings can still produce an intoxicating effect, depending on the alcoholic content of the wine.
Tasting plays an important role in the sensory analysis (also referred to as organoleptic analysis) of wine. Employing a trained or consumer panel, oenologists may perform a variety of tests on the taste, aroma, mouthfeel and appeal of wines. Difference tests are important in determining whether different fermentation conditions or new vineyard treatments alter the character of a wine, something particularly important to producers who aim for consistency. Preference testing establishes consumer preference, while descriptive analysis determines the most prominent traits of the wine, some of which grace back labels. Blind tasting and other laboratory controls help mitigate bias and assure statistically significant results. Many large wine companies now boast their own sensory team, optimally consisting of a Ph.D. sensory scientist, a flavor chemist and a trained panel.
Wine grape varieties are variously evaluated according to a wide range of descriptors which draw comparisons with other, non-grape flavors and aromas.The following table provides a brief and by no means exhaustive summary of typical descriptors for the better-known varietals.
Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. These variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the grape's growing environment (terroir), and the production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine. These typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production. Wines not made from grapes involve fermentation of additional crops including, rice wine and other fruit wines such as plum, cherry, pomegranate, currant and elderberry.
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and an easy entry into the international wine market.
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety at 48,700 hectares, but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the "top three" white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly "terroir-expressive", meaning that the character of Riesling wines is greatly influenced by the wine's place of origin.
The Chablis region is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France. The cool climate of this region produces wines with more acidity and flavors less fruity than Chardonnay wines grown in warmer climates. These wines often have a "flinty" note, sometimes described as "goût de pierre à fusil", and sometimes as "steely". The Chablis Appellation d'origine contrôlée is required to use Chardonnay grapes solely.
Grappa is an alcoholic beverage: a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume.
White wine is a wine that is fermented without skin contact. The colour can be straw-yellow, yellow-green, or yellow-gold. It is produced by the alcoholic fermentation of the non-coloured pulp of grapes, which may have a skin of any colour. White wine has existed for at least 2500 years.
A wine fault or defect is an unpleasant characteristic of a wine often resulting from poor winemaking practices or storage conditions, and leading to wine spoilage. Many of the compounds that cause wine faults are already naturally present in wine but at insufficient concentrations to be of issue. In fact, depending on perception, these concentrations may impart positive characters to the wine. However, when the concentration of these compounds greatly exceeds the sensory threshold, they replace or obscure the flavors and aromas that the wine should be expressing. Ultimately the quality of the wine is reduced, making it less appealing and sometimes undrinkable.
Blinded wine tasting is wine tasting undertaken in circumstances in which the tasters are kept unaware of the wines' identities. The blind approach is routine for wine professionals who wish to ensure impartiality in the judgment of the quality of wine during wine competitions or in the evaluation of a sommelier for professional certification. More recently wine scientists have used blinded tastings to explore the objective parameters of the human olfactory system as they apply to the ability of wine drinkers to identify and characterize the extraordinary variety of compounds that contribute to a wine’s aroma. Similarly, economists specializing in the wine market have utilized the technique in their research. Some blinded trials among wine consumers have indicated that people can find nothing in a wine's aroma or taste to distinguish between ordinary and pricey brands. Academic research on blinded wine tastings have also cast doubt on the ability of professional tasters to judge wines consistently.
A wine glass is a type of glass that is used to drink and taste wine. Most wine glasses are stemware, that is they are goblets composed of three parts: the bowl, stem, and foot.
The glossary of wine terms lists the definitions of many general terms used within the wine industry. For terms specific to viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, and wine tasting, see the topic specific list in the "See also" section below.
Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. The fertile valleys and protective slopes of the Transcaucasia were home to grapevine cultivation and neolithic wine production for at least 8000 years. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history and its prominent economic role, the traditions of wine are considered entwined with and inseparable from the national identity.
Tea tasting is the process in which a trained taster determines the quality of a particular tea. Due to climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different clones of the Camellia sinensis plant (tea), the final product may have vastly differing flavours and appearance. These differences can be tasted by a trained taster in order to ascertain the quality prior to sale or possibly blending tea.
The use of wine tasting descriptors allows the taster to qualitatively relate the aromas and flavors that the taster experiences and can be used in assessing the overall quality of wine. Wine writers differentiate wine tasters from casual enthusiasts; tasters attempt to give an objective description of the wine's taste, casual enthusiasts appreciate wine but pause their examination sooner than tasters. The primary source of a person's ability to taste wine is derived from their olfactory senses. A taster's own personal experiences play a significant role in conceptualizing what they are tasting and attaching a description to that perception. The individual nature of tasting means that descriptors may be perceived differently among various tasters.
Ann C. Noble is a sensory chemist and retired professor from the University of California, Davis. During her time at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, Noble invented the "Aroma Wheel" which is credited with enhancing the public understanding of wine tasting and terminology. At the time of her hiring at UC Davis in 1974, Noble was the first woman hired as a faculty member of the Viticulture department. Noble retired from Davis in 2002 and in 2003 was named Emeritus Professor of Enology. Since retirement she has participated as a judge in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The Niagara College Teaching Winery (NCT), Canada’s first commercial teaching winery, is located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus of Niagara College within the Niagara Region of Ontario. Situated in the heart of Niagara wine country, the NCT is the centre for applied wine education for the Canadian wine industry. Officially opened in November 2002, the winery began production in 2001. With three on-site teaching and research vineyards, Winery and Viticulture students are taught the day-to-day responsibilities and inner workings of a winery, from planting grapes to selling wine. Students form teams dedicated to making a specific variety of wine. The Wine Business Management program provides students expertise in the business, retail, marketing and export aspects of the growing wine industry. The facility operates strictly on a non-profit, cost recovery basis with all revenue from sales re-invested into the winery program.
The acids in wine are an important component in both winemaking and the finished product of wine. They are present in both grapes and wine, having direct influences on the color, balance and taste of the wine as well as the growth and vitality of yeast during fermentation and protecting the wine from bacteria. The measure of the amount of acidity in wine is known as the “titratable acidity” or “total acidity”, which refers to the test that yields the total of all acids present, while strength of acidity is measured according to pH, with most wines having a pH between 2.9 and 3.9. Generally, the lower the pH, the higher the acidity in the wine. However, there is no direct connection between total acidity and pH. In wine tasting, the term “acidity” refers to the fresh, tart and sour attributes of the wine which are evaluated in relation to how well the acidity balances out the sweetness and bitter components of the wine such as tannins. Three primary acids are found in wine grapes: tartaric, malic and citric acids. During the course of winemaking and in the finished wines, acetic, butyric, lactic and succinic acids can play significant roles. Most of the acids involved with wine are fixed acids with the notable exception of acetic acid, mostly found in vinegar, which is volatile and can contribute to the wine fault known as volatile acidity. Sometimes, additional acids, such as ascorbic, sorbic and sulfurous acids, are used in winemaking.
The aging of wine is potentially able to improve the quality of wine. This distinguishes wine from most other consumable goods. While wine is perishable and capable of deteriorating, complex chemical reactions involving a wine's sugars, acids and phenolic compounds can alter the aroma, color, mouthfeel and taste of the wine in a way that may be more pleasing to the taster. The ability of a wine to age is influenced by many factors including grape variety, vintage, viticultural practices, wine region and winemaking style. The condition that the wine is kept in after bottling can also influence how well a wine ages and may require significant time and financial investment. The quality of an aged wine varies significantly bottle-by-bottle, depending on the conditions under which it was stored, and the condition of the bottle and cork, and thus it is said that rather than good old vintages, there are good old bottles. There is a significant mystique around the aging of wine, as its chemistry was not understood for a long time, and old wines are often sold for extraordinary prices. However, the vast majority of wine is not aged, and even wine that is aged is rarely aged for long; it is estimated that 90% of wine is meant to be consumed within a year of production, and 99% of wine within 5 years.
The aromas of wine are more diverse than its flavors. The human tongue is limited to the primary tastes perceived by taste receptors on the tongue – sourness, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness and savoriness. The wide array of fruit, earthy, leathery, floral, herbal, mineral, and woodsy flavor present in wine are derived from aroma notes sensed by the olfactory bulb. In wine tasting, wine is sometimes smelled before being drunk in order to identify some components of the wine that may be present. Different terms are used to describe what is being smelled. The most basic term is aroma which generally refers to a "pleasant" smell as opposed to odor which refers to an unpleasant smell or possible wine fault. The term aroma may be further distinguished from bouquet which generally refers to the smells that arise from the chemical reactions of fermentation and aging of the wine.
Jidvei wines are nurtured in Romania, within the Târnave wine region, along the two Târnave rivers: Târnave Mica and Târnava Mare. The Târnave region is situated in Jidvei, Alba County.
In viticulture, ripeness is the completion of the ripening process of wine grapes on the vine which signals the beginning of harvest. What exactly constitutes ripeness will vary depending on what style of wine is being produced and what the winemaker and viticulturist personally believe constitutes ripeness. Once the grapes are harvested, the physical and chemical components of the grape which will influence a wine's quality are essentially set so determining the optimal moment of ripeness for harvest may be considered the most crucial decision in winemaking.
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