Find out how to do a wine taste test without being a sommelier

Most people aren’t sommelier, even though many of them would like to be able to do a sensory analysis of wine in order to evaluate wines at a tasting. As producers of Chianti Classico DOCG we will discuss only those aspects vital to the tasting of red wines.

The sensory analysis of wine is an objective practice taking place during the tasting. Professionals in this area perform the analysis with respect to very precise rules using the senses and, to be impartial, they do this blindly. We would like to give some practices that will allow non professionals to appreciate and evaluate a glass of red wine that they are sipping.

The sensory analysis of wine can be divded into three principal phases: visual examination, olfactory examination and taste examination.

Visual examination

The visual examination consists of evaluating the clarity, the transparency and the fluidity of the wine.

The clarity is evaluated by observing the content of the glass against the light. A light glazing can indicate the presence of a problem with the wine but can also be an indication of handcrafted production.

The transparency is evaluated by observing the content of the glass against a reference object. A good Chianti Classico wine, made with a high percentage of Sangiovese grapes with a high content of color pigment, will not be transparent.

The color of a Chianti Classico wine depends on the territory it’s from, on the winemaking process and on the aging of the wine. A correct winemaking process provides the wine with an intense red color, which becomes garnet red color with yellowish shades as the years pass.

luidity is the parameter that indicates the consistency of the wine. Swirling the wine in a circular motion in the glass, makes it possible to observe the consistency of the arches that form on the sides of the glass as the wine slides down: The more alcohol there is, the narrower the arches, the more the arches are slow to disappear the greater the softness and density of the wine.

Olfactory examination

The olfactory examination is the most complex phase of the sensory analysis of the wine. It requires experience, technique and good olfactory training. From this analysis you can identify the intensity, the quality and the aromas of the wine.

The quality of a wine is determined in good part by the intensity of its olfactory substances which can be identified with a correctly performed olfactory examination.

Lifting the wine glass to your nose, without shaking the wine, you are able to determine the intensity of the aroma. By then rotating the wine in the glass, the process of evaporation begins and you are able to evaluate the nature and quality of the aromas.

The intensity is the force with which the aromas are released, which is different from the complexity. The complexity depends on the quantity and quality of the aromas which can be perceived. The nature of the aromas depends on the territory and on the type of grape, on the winemaking process, and on the aging process, including time and container types, whether steel, wood, etc.

Chianti Classico is flowery to the nose with aromas of violet and wild berries, with balsamic notes.

Tasting examination

The moment to taste the wine has arrived! Taste by sipping so the wine spreads across the various areas of the tongue where different taste receptors are situated: the tip of the tongue for sweetness, the sides for acidity and saltiness, the back for bitterness, and the center for the consistency.

Continuing to taste, you then evaluate the body of the wine, after which you should unify the taste and the olfactory to analyze the retro olfactory sensations, lastly deepening understanding of the persistence and the evolution of the wine over time.

A glass of wine should generate pleasant and agreeable sensations for the person tasting it, a moment of joy to share with loved ones. A positive sensory evaluation should allow for this result.

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