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BY THE GLASS Taste Wine Like a Pro
Most of us taste and drink wine for enjoyment and camaraderie

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. Professionals utilize “Technical Wine Tasting” to determine style and quality of wines that they will be offering to customers, and of course to be able to determine that each bottle served is not flawed. If you have seen the movie “Somm”, you know that while professional tasting can be fun, it can also be a very deep rabbit hole! For everyday wine lovers who like to, or would like to, taste wine for a fun intellectual experience I recommend looking at Wine Tasting like a good board game – think of Parker Brothers “Clue”. As in that game, wine tasting can be a cool way to gather information and make conclusions. More importantly it is a great way to enjoy time with friends while sharing wine.
THREE EASY STEPS TO TASTING First you will need some wine! I suggest you pick a theme for selecting wines, something as simple as “Classic Reds” where you choose Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Try to pick wines from different regions that reflect that region. For example a Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley in Sonoma is potentially far different than one from the typically cooler Willamette Valley in Oregon. Another theme would be to pick the same varietal – say Sauvignon Blanc – and get examples from New Zealand, Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Sancerre and Chile. This will allow you to experience the variety of climates, grape clones and wine-making techniques typical of each region. You can either taste blind by putting the bottles in bags where only you will know what the wines are, or non-blind.
The second step is simple. Invite some friends to play. This can obviously be some of your gang, or if you are in a wine-related profession, invite some co-workers. This can not only be a great, fun learning experience but also be great team-building.
Lastly you will need a strategy. For the sake of space here I am guiding you to my website where on you can hit the “Wine Pro Blog” link at the top where at the bottom of a post of this article you will find “The School of Wine Tasting Guide” which I invite you to copy to a Word document and print. Don’t overthink this step-by-step process, just have fun with it!

TECHNICAL WINE TASTING / SENSORY PERCEPTION / ASSESSMENT Why: We perform Technical Tasting to assess wines for: 1) Soundness: Are the wines sound or flawed? 2) Specific Characteristics: What are the specific visuals, aromatics, flavors, as well as levels of Alcohol, acid, etc.. 3) Typicity: Is the wine of character for the grape(s), region, producer? This is important so the guest can have a good idea of what they are getting and therefore be satisfied and happy. 4) Appropriate for Guest and Price Point!
How: The following “The School of Wine Tasting Guide” is formatted to be complete and as simple to understand and use as possible. To that end when assessing “Levels” of different characteristics and components there is a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being the lowest metric. As an example a wine that is completely dry would receive a “1” for sweetness level.
At beginning levels it is most important to become proficient at the basics of perceiving with our “instruments” of vision, smell, taste and deduction. Each person has a different anatomy and physiology but we can learn to calibrate our perceptions with human norms, especially for the cultural norms of our service area. For example if one learns they do not perceive acid very strongly they will need to account for that in their assessment. In relation to cultural norms it is important to be aware of such things as what fruits and non-fruits are typical of that culture. It would not be effective to describe a flavor profile as “gooseberry and quince” if those are not part of the cultural cuisine I your region.
The main goal of this skill-set is to assure our guests are receiving the best wine experience we can offer.

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THE SCHOOL OF WINE TASTING GUIDE Bright / odor free room. White back-round. Pour 1.5oz
SEE: Tilt glass 45%. View deepest and at rim. Swirl until legs become consistent.
State Red or White Clarity (Cloudy or Clear) Brightness 1-5 (Dull to Brilliant)
Color: Whites: Clear / Yellow / Straw / Gold / Brown (Green tint? )
Red: Purple / Ruby / Garnet / Tawny / Brown Rose: Pink / Salmon / Orange
Intensity 1-5 (Pale to Deep) Legs 1-5 (Fast to Slow) Rim Variance (if yes describe) Gas (Y or N) Sediment (Y or N)
SMELL: Swirl, approach glass, smell with sharp and/or long inhales.
Clean or Flawed Intensity 1-5 (Low to High) Fruits: State type and quality (ex. Fresh) Non-Fruits: Flowers, Spices, Other
Earthiness: Mineral, Barnyard, Mushroom Wood: Specific aromas
TASTE: Swish around entire mouth and throat, inhale to Olfactory RATE ALL 1-5 (Low to high) Sweetness Alcohol Body Acid Tannin Intensity Fruit (Type, Quality) Non-Fruits: Flowers, spices, vanilla , etc. Earth: Mineral, Barnyard, Mushroom Wood: Yes or No, Old or New Development: Youthful, Developing, Fully Developed, Passed Finish: Short-Long (1-5)
TELL /CONCLUSION Old World / New Climate: Cool, Moderate, Warm, Hot Age: 1-3,3-5,5-10,10+ Balance (Y or N) Varietal(s) Country / Region Quality: 1-5 Cost:$-$$$$

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