Sensitivity, practice, and knowledge. These are some of the key ingredients to becoming a true wine expert.
But there are other useful tools that will help you in this process. One of the most relevant is the Systematic Approach to Tasting – SAT, which most professionals use to accurately identify the characteristics of a wine and rigorously evaluate its quality and condition.
PWe share with you the different steps of this method so that you can taste wine like a true professional.
How to prepare a wine tasting at home
Effective wine tasting requires the creation of an appropriate atmosphere.
Ideally, the place for your wine tasting should have good natural lighting, which allow to properly observe the appearance of the wines. This place must also be free of odours to avoid any kind of interference with the aromas under evaluation.
You should have a pad and pen to write the tasting notes or, alternatively, if you are a technology fan, write your notes on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer. You can also have a wine-tasting spittoon nearby to discard the wine that you do not intend to swallow.
Choosing the right glass is another important step that will help you appreciate the full potential of the wine being tasted. The glass must be clear, without any design, and it must not have any odour or residue. When choosing a glass, it is important to ensure that, above all, the glass has the following characteristics: a round rim, which allows the wine to swirl and helps release its aromas, and walls facing inwards to capture these aromas.
Before the start of the tasting, it is also essential that you are well hydrated since dehydration can cause a loss of sensitivity to aromas, and it is also essential that your palate is clean.
Follow the technique used by wine experts in their tastings
The systematic approach to tasting consists of following an organized and strict model that will allow you to consider all the relevant elements for a faithful description of a wine.
This tool consists of a table that comprises two distinct phases: a descriptive phase, intended to collect as many notes as possible, to make a complete description of the wine being tasted; and a second evaluation phase in which, based on the description given, the wine quality and condition are determined.
First stage of the tasting: Appearance, Nose and Mouth
The descriptive phase of the tasting comprises three different sections - Appearance, Nose and Palate - which will allow you to characterize the profile of the wine according to each of these perspectives.
Each section breaks down into several categories that must be observed. For this purpose, the table provides a set of descriptive terms, among which you must choose the one that, in each situation, best describes the wine you are tasting.
In the “Appearance", section, you will analyse categories such as the clarity of the wine, its level of intensity and its colour. In this last category, there is a different scale for each type of wine: white wines can be divided into a chromatic range that goes from “lemon green” to “brown;” in the case of red wines, this range goes from “purple” to “brown;” and for rosé wines, descriptions such as “pink,” “salmon” or “orange” are used.
By participating in different tastings, you can easily conclude that it is possible to find all sorts of combinations between the colour and the intensity of a wine. Still related to the appearance, you also have the opportunity to make some short observations of elements such as the tear, the sediment, or the effervescence.
Let’s move on to the second section, which analyses the wine behaviour in our
nose. Here, you will have the opportunity to understand the differences in terms of character and complexity of aromas proposed by each wine. The first element to consider is the condition of the wine, followed by an evaluation of the level of intensity of the aromas.
At this point, you are also invited to identify the characteristics of each aroma. Because this description can be very challenging, you are given access to a “Wine Lexicon,” which offers a structured approach to help you identify and describe the main aromas. These are divided into three types: primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas. For each type, the Wine Lexicon presents a set of descriptive terms, organized by groups (such as, for example, floral aromas, red fruit aromas or herbal aromas). These terms will guide you in your analysis in order to obtain the most accurate description possible. Given the characteristics of the identified aromas, this section also determines the stage of evolution of the wine, helping you to understand whether it is a “young” wine, an “evolving” wine, an “evolved” wine or a wine that is already “tired.”
Finally, the third section allows describing a diversity of components that are detected when the wine is in the palate. The analysis begins with elements such as the degree of sweetness, the level of acidity, the presence of tannins, the alcohol volume, the body, or the type of bubble (a relevant element only when dealing with a sparkling wine). This is followed by a description of the intensity and the flavour characteristics (using here, once again, the already mentioned “Wine Lexicon”) and, finally, the definition of the persistence of wine sensations in the mouth after it has been swallowed or spat out, an element known as “finish”.
Second stage of the tasting: Evaluation of wine quality
Once the description of the wine has been completed, the second stage of the tasting is devoted to the presentation of the conclusions that are obtained based on the information collected.
This evaluation is based on the determination of the wine level of quality and condition.
In evaluating the level of quality, which can fit into a scale that classifies the wine between “defective” to “excellent”, criteria such as the existing balance between the different components in the wine, its intensity, its persistence and its complexity should be taken into account. An excellent wine is the one that meets these four criteria.
With regard to evaluating the condition, the main aspect to consider is related to the perception of possible benefits that ageing may or may not bring to the wine. Through this indicator and based on the elements collected in the first stage of the tasting, you will conclude whether the wine being tasted is still too young, whether it can be drunk now, but has ageing potential, whether it should be consumed at the moment, and is not suitable for ageing or even if it is already too old for consumption.
Set out to discover unique wines
Thanks to writing the tasting notes in detail, you will be able not only to better understand the wines, but also to capture their true character.
With practice, using the systematic approach to tasting will allow you to improve and calibrate your senses and achieve the palate of the great wine experts. We also suggest that you keep a record of the different wines you taste. Having these notes at hand, for easy reference, will offer you a comparative term that will help you to understand your evolution in the way you perceive the essence of each wine.
Follow these tips, prepare your palate, and start your tastings.
Set out to discover unique wines!
Take a look at our Uva Wine Shop and let yourself be surprised by the selection of unique wines we have prepared for you.