Understanding Wine- The Sensory Evaluation

-Edited by Shivangi Srivastava

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Ever wondered, why people get the waiters to open the bottle of wine and do all those charades just to approve the wine? To a common person it is just a way to show-off, however, to trained personnel it a must. If you are a wine lover like I am, here is the secret why they do it. It is done to evaluate the wine on its sensory palate if t a good choice or not. It comes after a lot of practice but today I’ll show you to do it on a basic level.

Sensory Categories

The wine’s sensory evaluation is done on various levels, however, to broadly classify, they can be chronologically divided into Appearance, Nose, and Palate. Although it is a very complex process to evaluate the wine based on these guidelines, this article will give you a brief understanding of what to look for in a wine. With practice, this will help you develop those sensory muscles which are used by wine experts to distinguish wines based on their characteristics. Let’s see how they do it.

Appearance

In layman’s terminology, it is what you see. When a glass of wine is poured into a glass, just by looking at it, it says a lot about it. Certain aspects which are essential when you look at the wine are,

  • Clarity 
  • Evidence of Sediments
  • Brightness
  • Colour
  • Concentration
  • Viscosity/Tears

Nose

This term is used to evaluate the wine based on the aromas and flavours which it imparts on the nose. When you put your nose next to the wine glass, and before taking a sip, it helps you make a pre-assumption about the taste of the wine. Key aspects to look for while smelling the wine are,

  • Flaws (clean or unclean, cockiness or foul-smelling)
  • Intensity
  • Age
  • Fruit Aromas
  • Non-Fruit Aromas
  • Earthiness/Mineralogy
  • Wood

Palate

This is defined as the evaluation done within the mouth. It is the first sip of the wine, which will tell you whether you will like the wine for the rest of your life or not. The factors which help you decide are,

  • Sweetness/Dryness
  • Body
  • Fruit Flavours
  • Non-Fruit Flavours
  • Earthiness/Mineralogy
  • Acidity
  • Tannins (For Red wine only)
  • Alcohol
  • Wood

This is the exact same method used by all the Sommeliers in the world to evaluate any wine. It does take a lot of practice and patience to understand the wine and its production and many sommeliers spend their lifetime in attaining this super-power. Let this be a guide for you to evaluate your next wine and taste this power for yourself. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers in evaluating the wine in terms of certain aspects.

With all the knowledge you have gained in the past few weeks from the posts I have written, I am fairly confident that you’ll be able to do the basic evaluation of the wine. Try it doing blind-folded, I’ve heard it heightens your senses. I haven’t done it myself, so I cannot say much about it.

I hope you are enjoying these articles and learning new things about wine with every new article I post. To show your support please leave a comment or feedback for me to improve.

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