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Always write down the results of your evaluations to feed the database with your own impressions (the best wine is the one you like best). When possible, transfer the annotated data to the Wines & Cellars program   .

How to carry out the evaluation:

None of the three senses,  visionhearing or  taste  should be neglected in order to discover the qualities of a wine. The color and scents of a wine are essential. They reveal the taste flavors that lead to tasting. However, it is not always easy to define them.

Through these three senses, one can verify that the wines evolve over time, whether they are strong or elegant, still young or old.

Therefore, the evaluation is divided into three parts:

Visual aspect

  • Color quality
  • Clarity
  • Wine tones
  • White wines
  • Red Wines

Olfactory appearance

  • Primary, secondary and tertiary aromas
  • Diversity of aromas
  • The aromas exhaled by some varieties

Taste aspect

The ideal conditions to taste a wine

  • To achieve the ideal conditions for evaluating a wine, the following are required:
  • Use a clear, colorless, tulip-shaped glass stem conforming to INAO standards.
  • Be in a well lit environment.
  • Notice the look of wine looking against a white background.
  • Do not fill more than a third of the glass with wine.
  • Observe the correct serving temperature for each type of wine.
  • Avoid an ambient temperature above 75.2ºF (24ºC).

Visual aspect

The first contact a person has with wine, even before any olfactory or gustatory, is the visual. This contact is very important because the color allows a person to evaluate the general state of a wine and gives a good idea of ​​how it will stay in the mouth.

Through a simple look, you can estimate the health condition of the wine that is in your glass, as well as predict its probable course of evolution.

Color quality

In a wine, it is important to note its brightness and rim color, taking into consideration that these items are extremely related to the taste of each person. Color often reveals a defect in wine.

Some wines may have atypical colors that, although beautiful, may not be adequate. For example, a dark golden color in a young white wine, of the Sauvignon Blanc variety, certainly reveals a defect in wine.

Wine tones

The color of a wine and its tonalities give us some indications: its age, its varieties, the region from where it came, the quality of its crop and its evolution. A wine is rarely monochrome. See the nuances of its color through the glass, note the differences between the brighter, brighter portion and the one that is at the bottom of the glass, more opaque.

The nature of wine and the talent of the winemaker are the preponderant factors related to the potential evolution of a wine. Depending on its nature, its crop and the conditions of its elaboration, the time can be a favorable or unfavorable factor to the wine, that can evolve slowly or quickly.

A seven-year-old Beaujolais may present a highly evolved shade, while a Bordeaux of the same age will have a still fairly young color with the potential to evolve further.

When evaluating the color of a wine, we must take into account the characteristics peculiar to its origin and crop.

Shades of white

The colors of white wines, unlike reds, range from non-colored to mahogany, with a tendency to gain a darker color over time. Wines with a higher rate of residual sugar (sweets or liqueurs similar to liqueurs) are more often golden or luscious than dry ones or with a pronounced acidity. The latter show a predominance of the straw yellow color, being occasionally colorless.

The most common colors of white wine:

  • Colorless : Wine without body, very young, light and fresh.
  • Yellowish green : Light and fresh wine, still young.
  • Yellow straw : young wine.
  • Golden yellow : an older wine; undesirable color in wines with a modest structure. It may indicate a defect.
  • Amber yellow : Typical of white, sweet and aged wines.

Red wine tones

Note the evolution of a red wine:

When a wine is young, it is usually red-violet, red-purple or ruby-red. Violet reflections on the rim of the glass are still frequent in this type of wine.

Over time, the color of a red wine tends to become lighter, changing from purple to orange after going through the ruby ​​and garnet colors.

The light color that certain young red wines show is due to less extraction of color during the winemaking process, or simply a characteristic of the variety used, such as Gamay  or  Pinot Noir , which generally produce light wines, unlike  Cabernet SauvignonGrenache.  or  Syrah , which produce very distinctive and dark red wines.

The color of wines that have aged for a few years tends to produce orange tones.

Evolved wines tend to display a mahogany color with shades of orange-red.

The most common colors of red wine:

  • Purple Red : A young wine, which usually needs more time in the bottle to display all its qualities.
  • Ruby red : A wine still young, usually bottled for some time, and beginning to show its potentialities.
  • Garnet red : A wine that shows a certain degree of maturation.
  • Orange Red : A wine that already shows evidence of aging.

Clarity

The appearance of a wine is an obvious element of attraction. A bright and clear appearance and the absence of cloudiness is the sign of a wine that enjoys good health. Clarity is always desirable in a wine, but it is not in itself a certificate of quality assurance.

Most wines nowadays are visually perfect, though not necessarily good. Some good producers, although they hinder the visual aspect, avoid filtering their wines as a way to maintain the integrity of their aromas.

A wine may have some kind of deposit. This is absolutely normal in a liquid that is alive. Therefore, we must carefully manipulate the bottle to prevent any occasional deposit on its bottom from spreading throughout the remainder of the wine, making it cloudy and requiring settling.

Olfactory appearance

To evaluate the olfactory aspect, the wine must be in the ideal conditions to be judged. The olfactory evaluation follows the visual analysis and is performed in three stages:

  1. Leave the wine still in your glass. Hold the glass by the base and bring it close to the nose. These first scents are the most subtle and the most volatile.
  2. After stirring the wine lightly and shaking it two or three times inside the glass, the aromas developed by the air and oxidation loosen. Then let the wine stand in the glass. It is then possible to evidence a continuous aromatic evolution, and the aromas may vary for several minutes.
  3. Drink some wine without swallowing. Circulate a little air between the lips to facilitate the diffusion of the aromas. Swallow the wine and exhale.

Olfactory impressions are perceived in two different ways: first, the perceptions are perceived directly by the nasal cavities. Secondly, once the wine is in the mouth, the sensations are perceived by the retronasal cavities – this is what we call retro taste -, a phenomenon in which the gustatory and olfactory impressions are felt simultaneously.

Aroma Quality

To evaluate the aroma of a wine, we must consider its quality, intensity and persistence.

Quality

  • We must evaluate if the aromas are pleasant and form a harmonic combination of varieties, not necessarily many, being well integrated with each other.

Intensity

  • We must evaluate if the aromas reach our nose with very strong intensity.

Persistence

  • We must evaluate, after storing the glass, if the aromas persist for a very long time.

Diversity of Aromas

As a general rule, white wines exude aromas of white and yellow flowers and fruits, while red wines, red flowers and fruits. In white, as in red wines, its evolution manifests itself through the change to ripe and dry fruits.

  • The most common aromas in younger wines are generally apple, pear, banana, apricot, pineapple, peach, cherry, blackcurrant, strawberry, gooseberry and raspberry.
  • Aromas of dried fruits, candied fruits or cooked fruits are considered excellent and an indication that the wine has already reached a certain stage of evolution.
  • The hazelnut and almond aromas are usually found in large white wines. Some good white wines usually have aromas of butter and honey.
  • Very common also are aromas of certain herbs and spices such as pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, anise, thyme, bay leaf and ginger.
  • The vanilla is a characteristic aroma of wines that were in oak barrels.
  • The truffle aroma is typical of very good red wines.
  • A wine with a longer evolution can present aromas that resemble a roasting of coffee or cacao, and of smoked food and caramel. Continuing with its evolution, this same wine will begin to exude aromas of animal origin like leather, skin, salami skin and hunting. These stronger aromas usually indicate the evolution of the great red wines.

Primary, secondary and tertiary aromas

The aromas of wine can be classified according to their origin and are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. The latter can also be referred to as a bouquet.

  • The primary aromas  are the aromas exhaled by the grapes and characteristics of each variety. The most representative of all varieties, with its peculiarity, is the  Moscatel  or  Moscatel . The perceived aromas in this type of wine are derived only from the grape.
  • The secondary aromas  are those emitted by the fermentation of wine or vinification. Such aromas are formed during alcoholic and malolactic fermentations.
  • Tertiary aromas  or bouquet are aromas resulting from aging. During the course of a wine’s life, its aromas will evolve following a logical order, beginning with floral and fruity aromas in its youth until ripe and dry fruits when ripe, with mineral nuances in whites and animals in reds. All these aromas express the evolution and maturation of a wine and develop during the time they remain inside the bottles.

Primary, secondary and tertiary aromas

The aromas of wine can be classified according to their origin and are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. The latter can also be referred to as a bouquet.

  • The primary aromas  are the aromas exhaled by the grapes and characteristics of each variety. The most representative of all varieties, with its peculiarity, is the  Moscatel  or  Moscatel . The perceived aromas in this type of wine are derived only from the grape.
  • The secondary aromas  are those emitted by the fermentation of wine or vinification. Such aromas are formed during alcoholic and malolactic fermentations.
  • Tertiary aromas  or bouquet are aromas resulting from aging. During the course of a wine’s life, its aromas will evolve following a logical order, beginning with floral and fruity aromas in its youth until ripe and dry fruits when ripe, with mineral nuances in whites and animals in reds. All these aromas express the evolution and maturation of a wine and develop during the time they remain inside the bottles.

The aromas exhaled by some varieties

Characteristic aromas of red grape varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon : Its most characteristic aroma is that of green pepper, especially during youth; Other notable aromas are blackcurrants, raspberries, cedar, mint and licorice. It tends to evolve into animal scents.
  • Cabernet Franc : Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but not as strong as green pepper, and less aggressive in general.
  • Merlot : cherry, raspberry, wet ground and aged truffles.
  • Pinot Noir : Gooseberry, cherry, raspberry, licorice, game, wet land and pepper.
  • Gamay : Banana, apple and pineapple.
  • Sangiovese : cinnamon, cloves, cherry and raspberry.
  • Nebiolo : Truffle, tar, wood and smoked food.
  • Syrah : Violet, gooseberry, raspberry and spices.
  • Granacha Granacha: Cherry, herbs, plums and leather.

Characteristic aromas of white varieties:

  • Chardonay : apple, pear, peach, pineapple and some citrus aromas; usually they evolve into aromas that remind us toasted almonds, hazelnuts and butter.
  • Sauvignon Blanc : Citrus fruits, vegetables, minerals and, mainly, green apples.
  • Gewurztraminer : Particularly roses and floral scents in most of them.
  • Sèmillon : Honey, pear, apricot, peach, pineapple and quince.
  • Riesling : lemon, orange, fresh herb and musk.

Tasteful Appearance

Our language can only identify bitter, acid, sweet and salty flavors.

In the case of wine, bitter astringency is caused by the tannin present exclusively in red wines, since they are vinified in contact with grape peels.

The sweet taste may result from residual sugars or from a feeling resulting from a high alcohol content.

The higher the amount of sugar in the must during the winemaking process, the higher the alcohol content. The latter can be artificially increased with the addition of alcohol (as in the case of fortified wines), or through chaptalization.

The acidity, responsible for the freshness and liveliness of wines, is more intense in white wines.

Quality of Taste

In the same way the aroma, flavor must be evaluated as to its  qualityintensity and  persistence . In addition, a fourth item, its  balance, will  consider the harmony between the main components of a wine: alcoholic content, tanicity (in red wines), acidity and body.

In a good quality wine, its flavors should be harmonized, with a sweet taste being normal to stand out in the sweet wines, the astringency of the tannins in the reds, and the acidity in the whites.

The taste of good wine has a good persistence when it stays in our mouths for some time after we have swallowed.

The so-called wine flavor is much more due to the aromas noticed through the aftertaste phenomenon (retro-taste) than by the perceived taste buds.

In sparkling wines, one should also consider the sensation and duration of its  effervescence .

Wine tasting sheet

When evaluating a wine, it is necessary to quantify certain characteristics that will determine the final score of the evaluation, as well as to take note of other characteristics for future reference, follow-up and comparison.

Some of the measurable characteristics:

  • Color quality
  • Aroma quality
  • Intensity of aromas
  • Persistence of aromas
  • Flavor quality
  • Intensity of flavor
  • Persistence of taste
  • Taste balance

Note the weights assigned to each of the indicated measurable characteristics.

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