For our blind tastings we used a form developed by the Court of Master Sommeliers. It broke wine tasting down into three sections – flavor descriptors, structure, and conclusions. The point was to demonstrate your ability to analyze a wine, even if you couldn’t correctly name the wine. It was more important to demonstrate how you got the answer you got than the answer itself. We would work and re-work this grid in every class and on most tests. We were learning to tease forth each wines secretes. Over time many of us would develop “tells” for a grape varietal and wine region. Red licorish was a Burgundian give away for me, and dried tobacco for New World Pinot Noir. Even more exciting, you could shout out “I love the wet sock/fungus flavor” and get approving nods and extra professionalism points. A typical tasting would look something like this –
* Choose some fruit descriptors and name them – black fruit (black currant, blackberry, crushed black cherries) red fruit (red currant), no blue fruit, Other…(cranberry fruit leather, and hint of lee-chee fruit)
* Did the wine have any Floral, Spice or Herbal notes? Floral (chrysanthemum, crushed orange blossom, mild rose), Spice(clove, cardamom) Herbs(strong heather, dried tobacco) Other…(bactine, dryer lint)
* How about minerality – Stone/Mineral (granite dust and mild slate), Earth/Soil (dry earth), Compost/Truffle (compost, truffle, horse manure)
* Was any oak used, if so what were the qualities. Yes (Toasted French Oak, notes of cedar and pine resin).
Now for structure:
* How much of the sugar is left at fermentation? The wine was Dry.
* What was the alcohol content of the wine? Low to Medium.
* How strong were the tannins? Medium to Medium-plus
* How long was the finish on the palate. Long
The Conclusion. If you’ve done your work you should have some strong information to work with in forming your conclusion.
* What climate is this wine from – Cool Moderate or Hot? Moderate
* Is this an Old World or New World wine? Old
* What Grape was used to make this wine? Pinot Noir
* What country is it from? France
* Vintage? 2000-2002